Transcriptional activation of Epstein–Barr virus BRLF1 by USF1 and Rta

Chen Chia Hung, Chung Wen Kuo, Wen Hung Wang, Tzu Hsuan Chang, Pey Jium Chang, Li Kwan Chang, Shih Tung Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

9 Scopus citations


During its lytic cycle, Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) expresses Rta, a factor encoded by BRLF1 that activates the transcription of viral lytic genes. We found that upstream stimulating factor (USF) binds to E1, one of the five E boxes located at 279 in the BRLF1 promoter (Rp), to activate BRLF1 transcription. Furthermore, Rta was shown to interact with USF1 in coimmunoprecipitation and glutathione S-transferase (GST)-pulldown assays, and confocal laser-scanning microscopy further confirmed that these two proteins colocalize in the nucleus. Rta was also found to bind with the E1 sequence in a biotin-labelled E1 probe, but only in the presence of USF1, suggesting that these two proteins likely form a complex on E1. We subsequently constructed p188mSZ, a reporter plasmid that contained the sequence from 2188 to +5 in Rp, within which the Sp1 site and Zta response element were mutated. In EBV-negative Akata cells cotransfected with p188mSZ and plasmids expressing USF1 and Rta, synergistic activation of Rp transcription was observed. However, after mutating the E1 sequence in p188mSZ, USF1 and Rta were no longer able to transactivate Rp, indicating that Rta autoregulates BRLF1 transcription via its interaction with USF1 on E1. This study showed that pUSF1 transfection after EBV lytic induction in P3HR1 cells increases Rta expression, indicating that USF1 activates Rta expression after the virus enters the lytic cycle. Together, these results reveal a novel mechanism by which USF interacts with Rta to promote viral lytic development, and provide additional insight into the viral–host interactions of EBV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2855-2866
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of General Virology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 01 09 2015

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© 2015 The Authors.


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