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EMBO J. 1997 Jan 2;16(1):143-53.

Cyclosporin A-sensitive induction of the Epstein-Barr virus lytic switch is mediated via a novel pathway involving a MEF2 family member.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Induction of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) lytic cycle by crosslinking surface immunoglobulin is inhibited by the immunosuppressants cyclosporin A (CsA) and FK506. This correlates with the ability of CsA to inhibit Ca2+-dependent transcription of the lytic cycle switch gene BZLF1. It is shown here that CsA sensitivity maps to three sites (ZIA, ZIB and ZID) that bind the serum response factor-related protein MEF2D. A synthetic promoter containing multiple copies of a MEF2D site from Zp, in conjunction with a CREB/AP-1 site (ZII) from Zp, exhibits CsA-sensitive inducibility. Furthermore, the Zp MEF2D sites were functionally interchangeable with MEF2 sites derived from heterologous promoters. While no evidence of a NFAT family member binding to either the MEF2 or CREB/AP-1 sites was obtained, it could be demonstrated that CsA-sensitive induction of Zp was mediated by calcineurin and NFATc2 in synergy with either phorbol ester or especially with the EBV-induced Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase type IV/Gr. These studies identify Zp as prototypic of a novel class of CsA-sensitive and NFAT-dependent promoters defined by the presence of MEF2 sites.

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