The in vitro growth transformation of primary B cells by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the initial step in the development of posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD). We performed electron microscopic analysis and immunostaining of primary B cells infected with wild-Type EBV. Interestingly, the nucleolar size was increased by two days after infection. A recent study found that nucleolar hypertrophy, which is caused by the induction of the IMPDH2 gene, is required for the efficient promotion of growth in cancers. In the present study, RNA-seq revealed that the IMPDH2 gene was significantly induced by EBV and that its level peaked at day 2. Even without EBV infection, the activation of primary B cells by the CD40 ligand and interleukin-4 increased IMPDH2 expression and nucleolar hypertrophy. Using EBNA2 or LMP1 knockout viruses, we found that EBNA2 and MYC, but not LMP1, induced the IMPDH2 gene during primary infections. IMPDH2 inhibition by mycophenolic acid (MPA) blocked the growth transformation of primary B cells by EBV, leading to smaller nucleoli, nuclei, and cells. Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), which is a prodrug of MPA that is approved for use as an immunosuppressant, was tested in a mouse xenograft model. Oral MMF significantly improved the survival of mice and reduced splenomegaly. Taken together, these results indicate that EBV induces IMPDH2 expression through EBNA2-dependent and MYC-dependent mechanisms, leading to the hypertrophy of the nucleoli, nuclei, and cells as well as efficient cell proliferation. Our results provide basic evidence that IMPDH2 induction and nucleolar enlargement are crucial for B cell transformation by EBV. In addition, the use of MMF suppresses PTLD. IMPORTANCE EBV infections cause nucleolar enlargement via the induction of IMPDH2, which are essential for B cell growth transformation by EBV. Although the significance of IMPDH2 induction and nuclear hypertrophy in the tumorigenesis of glioblastoma has been reported, EBV infection brings about the change quickly by using its transcriptional cofactor, EBNA2, and MYC. Moreover, we present here, for the novel, basic evidence that an IMPDH2 inhibitor, namely, MPA or MMF, can be used for EBV-positive posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD).
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