The EBNA 2 (Epstein–Barr nuclear antigen 2) transcription factor is essential for B-cell transformation by the cancer-associated EBV (Epstein–Barr virus) and for the continuous proliferation of infected cells. EBNA 2 activates transcription from the viral Cp (C promoter) during infection to generate the 120 kb transcript that encodes all nuclear antigens required for immortalization by EBV. EBNA 2 contains an acidic activation domain and can interact with a number of general transcription factors and co-activators. It is now becoming clear, however, that the regulation of transcription elongation in addition to initiation by EBNA 2, at least in part through CDK9 (cyclin-dependent kinase 9)-dependent phosphorylation of the RNA polymerase C-terminal domain, is likely to play a crucial role in the mechanism of action of this key viral protein.

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