Virology, Nebraska Center for


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May 2005


Published in JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, May 2005, p. 5640–5652 Vol. 79, No. 9. 0022-538X doi:10.1128/JVI.79.9.5640–5652.2005 Copyright © 2005, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (also called human herpesvirus 8 [HHV-8]) replication and transcription activator (RTA) is apparently necessary and sufficient for the switch from viral latency to lytic replication. RTA may regulate open reading frame (ORF) K14 (viral OX-2 homologue) and ORF74 (viral G-protein-coupled receptor homologue) genes through an interferon-stimulated response element (ISRE)-like sequence (K14 ISRE) in the promoter region. RTA strongly activated a K14 ISRE-containing K14-ORF74 promoter reporter construct and a heterologous promoter reporter construct containing K14 ISRE. RTA could bind to K14 ISRE and other ISREs, activate promoter reporter constructs from interferon-simulated genes (ISGs), and selectively induce three endogenous ISGs in primary endothelial cells: ISG-54, myxovirus resistance protein 1 (MxA), and stimulated trans-acting factor of 50 kDa. In addition, a region in the RTA DNA-binding domain has been identified with certain sequence similarity to the DNA-binding domains of the interferon regulatory factor (IRF) family. Mutation in one conserved amino acid within this region reduced the ability of RTA to bind to ISRE as well as other RTA response elements. Furthermore, the mutant failed to activate RTA-responsive promoters and to induce viral lytic gene expression. The mutation at the same conserved amino acid residue in IRF-7 drastically reduced its ability to bind to DNA and to activate the beta interferon promoter. The sequence and functional similarities between RTA and IRFs suggest that the HHV-8 RTA may usurp the cellular IRF pathway.

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