TAF Family Proteins and MEF2C Are Essential for Epstein-Barr Virus Super-Enhancer Activity.

Wang C, Jiang S, Zhang L, Li D, Liang J, Narita Y, Hou I, Zhong Q, Gewurz BE, Teng M, Zhao B.


Super-enhancers (SEs) are clusters of enhancers marked by extraordinarily high and broad chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by deep sequencing (ChIP-seq) signals for H3K27ac or other transcription factors (TFs). SEs play pivotal roles in development and oncogenesis. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) super-enhancers (ESEs) are co-occupied by all essential EBV oncogenes and EBV-activated NF-κB subunits. Perturbation of ESEs stops lymphoblastoid cell line (LCL) growth. To further characterize ESEs and identify proteins critical for ESE function, MYC ESEs were cloned upstream of a green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter. Reporters driven by MYC ESEs 525 kb and 428 kb upstream of MYC (525ESE and 428ESE) had very high activities in LCLs but not in EBV-negative BJAB cells. EBNA2 activated MYC ESE-driven luciferase reporters. CRISPRi targeting 525ESE significantly decreased MYC expression. Genome-wide CRISPR screens identified factors essential for ESE activity. TBP-associated factor (TAF) family proteins, including TAF8, TAF11, and TAF3, were essential for the activity of the integrated 525ESE-driven reporter in LCLs. TAF8 and TAF11 knockout significantly decreased 525ESE activity and MYC transcription. MEF2C was also identified to be essential for 525ESE activity. Depletion of MEF2C decreased 525ESE reporter activity, MYC expression, and LCL growth. MEF2C cDNA resistant to CRIPSR cutting rescued MEF2C knockout and restored 525ESE reporter activity and MYC expression. MEF2C depletion decreased IRF4, EBNA2, and SPI1 binding to 525ESE in LCLs. MEF2C depletion also affected the expression of other ESE target genes, including the ETS1 and BCL2 genes. These data indicated that in addition to EBNA2, TAF family members and MEF2C are essential for ESE activity, MYC expression, and LCL growth. SEs play critical roles in cancer development. Since SEs assemble much bigger protein complexes on enhancers than typical enhancers (TEs), they are more sensitive than TEs to perturbations. Understanding the protein composition of SEs that are linked to key oncogenes may identify novel therapeutic targets. A genome-wide CRISPR screen specifically identified proteins essential for MYC ESE activity but not simian virus 40 (SV40) enhancer. These proteins not only were essential for the reporter activity but also were also important for MYC expression and LCL growth. Targeting these proteins may lead to new therapies for EBV-associated cancers.

Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.