B Cell Receptor-Responsive miR-141 Enhances Epstein-Barr Virus Lytic Cycle via FOXO3 Inhibition

Yan Chen, Devin N. Fachko, Nikita S. Ivanov, Rebecca L. Skalsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Antigen recognition by the B cell receptor (BCR) is a physiological trigger for reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and can be recapitulated in vitro by cross-linking of surface immunoglobulins. Previously, we identified a subset of EBV microRNAs (miRNAs) that attenuate BCR signal transduction and subsequently dampen lytic reactivation in B cells. The roles of host miRNAs in the EBV lytic cycle are not completely understood. Here, we profiled the small RNAs in reactivated Burkitt lymphoma cells and identified several miRNAs, such as miR-141, that are induced upon BCR cross-linking. Notably, EBV encodes a viral miRNA, miR-BART9, with sequence homology to miR-141. To better understand the functions of these two miRNAs, we examined their molecular targets and experimentally validated multiple candidates commonly regulated by both miRNAs. Targets included B cell transcription factors and known regulators of EBV immediate-early genes, leading us to hypothesize that these miRNAs modulate kinetics of the lytic cascade in B cells. Through functional assays, we identified roles for miR-141 and EBV miR-BART9 and one specific target, FOXO3, in progression of the lytic cycle. Our data support a model whereby EBV exploits BCR-responsive miR-141 and further mimics activity of this miRNA family via a viral miRNA to promote productive lytic replication. IMPORTANCE EBV is a human pathogen associated with several malignancies. A key aspect of lifelong virus persistence is the ability to switch between latent and lytic replication modes. The mechanisms governing latency, reactivation, and progression of the lytic cycle are only partly understood. This study reveals that specific miRNAs can act to support the EBV lytic phase following BCR-mediated reactivation triggers. Furthermore, this study identifies a role for FOXO3, commonly suppressed by both host and viral miRNAs, in modulating progression of the EBV lytic cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • FOXO3
  • herpesviruses
  • latency
  • lymphoma
  • microRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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