Productive infection and replication of herpesviruses usually occurs in growth-arrested cells, but there has been no direct evidence in the case of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), since an efficient lytic replication system without external stimuli does not exist for the virus. Expression of the EBV lytic-switch transactivator BZLF1 protein in EBV-negative epithelial tumor cell lines, however, is known to arrest the cell cycle in G0/G1 by induction of the tumor suppressor protein p53 and the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors p21WAF-1/CIP-1 and p27KIP-1, followed by the accumulation of a hypophosphorylated form of the Rb protein. In order to determine the effect of the onset of lytic viral replication on cellular events in latently EBV-infected B LCLs, a tightly controlled induction system of the EBV lytic-replication program by inducible BZLF1 protein expression was established in B95-8 cells. The induction of lytic replication completely arrested cell cycle progression and cellular DNA replication. Surprisingly, the levels of p53, p21WAF-1/CIP-1, and p27KIP-1 were constant before and after induction of the lytic program, indicating that the cell cycle arrest induced by the lytic program is not mediated through p53 and the CDK inhibitors. Furthermore, although cellular DNA replication was blocked, elevation of cyclin E/A expression and accumulation of hyperphosphorylated forms of Rb protein were observed, a post-G1/S phase characteristic of cells. Thus, while the EBV lytic program promoted specific cell cycle-associated activities involved in the progression from G1 to S phase, it inhibited cellular DNA synthesis. Such cellular conditions appear to especially favor viral lytic replication.
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