1887

Abstract

BHRF1, an early gene product of Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), is structurally and functionally homologous to Bcl-2, a cellular anti-apoptotic protein. BHRF1 has been shown to protect cells from apoptosis induced by numerous external stimuli. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is an epithelial cancer associated closely with EBV infection. Specific proteins that might interact with and modulate the BHRF1 anti-apoptotic activity in normal epithelial cells are of interest. Therefore, a cDNA library derived from normal human foreskin keratinocytes was screened by the yeast two-hybrid system and a cellular gene encoding human vaccinia virus B1R kinase-related kinase 2 (VRK2) was isolated. Interaction between the cellular VRK2 and viral BHRF1 proteins was further demonstrated by glutathione -transferase pull-down assays, confocal laser-scanning microscopy and co-immunoprecipitation. Analyses of VRK2-deletion mutants revealed that a 108 aa fragment at the C terminus was important for VRK2 to interact with BHRF1. For BHRF1, aa 1–18 and 89–142 were crucial in interacting with VRK2 and these two regions are counterparts of Bcl-2 homology domains 4 and 1. Overexpressed VRK2 alone showed a modest effect in anti-apoptosis and appeared to enhance cell survival in the presence of BHRF1. However, this enhancement was not observed when VRK2 was co-expressed with Bcl-2. The results indicate that human VRK2 interacts specifically with EBV BHRF1 and that the interaction is involved in protecting cells from apoptosis.

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2006-10-01
2019-10-17
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