The EBNA-LP protein (also known as EBNA-5) of Epstein—Barr virus (EBV) has been reported previously to colocalize in the nuclei of cells with the pRb protein and to bind to pRb and to the p53 protein, suggesting a role for EBNA-LP in modulation of the function of these proteins. Here we test in transfection assays whether EBNA-LP expression has any functional consequence for repression of E2F-1 activity by pRb or p107 or for activation of transcription by the p53 protein. No significant effect could be found, although the assay systems were sensitive to the established effects of simian virus 40 large T antigen and human papillomavirus type 16 E6 protein. There was very effective repression of GAL4/E2F-1 transactivation by p107, consistent with earlier reports and indicating that p107 can interact with the E2F-1 transactivation domain, even though p107 has been reported to bind specifically to E2F complexes containing E2F-4. The results indicate that, if the associations of EBNA-LP with pRB and p53 are physiologically relevant, they most likely affect other functions of these proteins or modulate their gene regulatory functions in ways that cannot be detected by transfection into cycling transformed cells.


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