Virology, Nebraska Center for


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Published in JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, Feb. 2000, p. 1061–1068 Vol. 74, No. 3. Copyright © 2000, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Infection by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) generates several types of latency with different profiles of gene expression but with expression of Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) in common. The BamHI Q promoter (Qp) is used for the transcription of EBNA-1 mRNA in type I latency, which is an EBV infection state exemplified by Burkitt’s lymphoma (BL). However, Qp is inactive in type III latency, and other promoters (C/Wp) are used for transcription of EBNA-1, which raises the question of how usage of these promoters is governed. Interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 7 (IRF-7) was identified first as a negative regulator of Qp. Expression of IRF-7 is associated with EBV type III latency, where Qp is inactive, but not with type I latency, raising the possibility that a viral gene product(s) expressed in type III latency might induce IRF-7 and repress Qp. Here, detailed analysis of the expression of IRF-7 revealed that it is associated with the expression of EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP-1) and that LMP-1 stimulates the expression of IRF-7 in type III latency in which Qp is inactive. In contrast, LMP-1 is not expressed in type I latency cells in which Qp is active. LMP-1 represses the constitutive activity of Qp reporter constructs. Mutational analysis of Qp reporter constructs revealed that the Qp IFN-stimulated response element (ISRE) is essential for the repression by LMP-1. Furthermore, LMP-1 reduced EBNA-1 mRNA derived from Qp only in type I cells in which IRF-7 could be induced. Finally, IFN-a, but not IFN-g, repressed endogenous Qp activity, which is consistent with the ability of IFN-a to induce IRF-7. Thus, IRF-7 may mediate repression of Qp by LMP-1. The induction of IRF-7 by LMP-1 may be relevant to the silencing of Qp in EBV type III latency.

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