Identification of acidic and aromatic residues in the Zta activation domain essential for Epstein-Barr virus reactivation

Z Deng, CJ Chen, D Zerby, Henri-Jacques Delecluse, PM Lieberman

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    Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) lytic cycle transcription and DNA replication require the transcriptional activation function of the viral immediate-early protein Zta. We describe a series of alanine substitution mutations in the Zta activation domain that reveal two functional motifs based on amino acid composition. Alanine substitution of single or paired hydrophobic aromatic amino acid residues resulted in modest transcription activation defects, while combining four substitutions of aromatic residues (F22/F26/W74/F75) led to more severe transcription defects. Substitution of acidic amino acid residue E27, D35, or E54 caused severe transcription defects on most viral promoters. Promoter- and cell-specific defects were observed for some substitution mutants. Aromatic residues were required for Zta interaction with TFIIA-TFIID and the CREB-binding protein (CBP) and for stimulation of CBP histone acetyltransferase activity in vitro. In contrast, acidic amino acid substitution mutants interacted with TFIIA-TFIID and CBP indistinguishably from the wild type. The nuclear domain 10 (ND10) protein SP100 was dispersed by most Zta mutants, but acidic residue mutations led to reduced, while aromatic substitution mutants led to increased SP100 nuclear staining. Acidic residue substitution mutants had more pronounced defects in transcription activation of endogenous viral genes in latently infected cells and for viral replication, as measured by the production of infectious virus. One mutant, K12/F13, was incapable of stimulating EBV lytic replication but had only modest transcription defects. These results indicate that Zta stimulates viral reactivation through two nonredundant structural motifs, one of which interacts with general transcription factors and coactivators, and the other has an essential but as yet not understood function in lytic transcription.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)10334-10347
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of virology
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2001


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