Virology, Nebraska Center for


Date of this Version

October 1997


Published in MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY, 0270-7306/97/$04.0010 Oct. 1997, p. 5748–5757 Vol. 17, No. 10 Copyright © 1997, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) BamHI Q promoter (Qp) is the only promoter used for the transcription of Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) mRNA in cells in the most restricted (type I) latent infection state. However, Qp is inactive in type III latency. With the use of the yeast one-hybrid system, a new cellular gene has been identified that encodes proteins which bind to sequence in Qp. The deduced amino acid sequence of the gene has significant homology to the interferon regulatory factors (IRFs). This new gene and products including two splicing variants are designated IRF-7A, IRF-7B, and IRF-7C. The expression of IRF-7 is predominantly in spleen, thymus, and peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL). IRF-7 proteins were identified in primary PBL with specific antiserum against IRF-7B protein. IRF-7s can bind to interferon-stimulated response element (ISRE) sequence and repress transcriptional activation by both interferon and IRF-1. Additionally, a functional viral ISRE sequence, 5’-GCGAAAACGAAAGT-3’, has been identified in Qp. Finally, the expression of IRF-7 is consistently high in type III latency cells and almost undetectable in type I latency, corresponding to the activity of endogenous Qp in these latency states and the ability of the IRF-7 proteins to repress Qp-reporter constructs. The identification of a functional viral ISRE and association of IRF-7 with type III latency may be relevant to the mechanism of regulation of Qp.

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