The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced tumor suppressor microrna MiR-34a is growth promoting in EBV-infected B cells

Eleonora Forte, Raul E. Salinas, Christina Chang, Ting Zhou, Sarah D. Linnstaedt, Eva Gottwein, Cassandra Jacobs, Dereje Jima, Qi Jing Li, Sandeep S. Dave, Micah A. Luftig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection of primary human B cells drives their indefinite proliferation into lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). B cell immortalization depends on expression of viral latency genes, as well as the regulation of host genes. Given the important role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in regulating fundamental cellular processes, in this study, we assayed changes in host miRNA expression during primary B cell infection by EBV. We observed and validated dynamic changes in several miRNAs from early proliferation through immortalization; oncogenic miRNAs were induced, and tumor suppressor miRNAs were largely repressed. However, one miRNA described as a p53-targeted tumor suppressor, miR-34a, was strongly induced by EBV infection and expressed in many EBV and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)-infected lymphoma cell lines. EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) was sufficient to induce miR-34a requiring downstream NF-κB activation but independent of functional p53. Furthermore, overexpression of miR-34a was not toxic in several B lymphoma cell lines, and inhibition of miR-34a impaired the growth of EBV-transformed cells. This study identifies a progrowth role for a tumor-suppressive miRNA in oncogenic-virus-mediated transformation, highlighting the importance of studying miRNA function in different cellular contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6889-6898
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jul 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Virology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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