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J Virol. 1998 Apr;72(4):2697-707.

Separate DNA elements containing ATF/CREB and IE86 binding sites differentially regulate the human cytomegalovirus UL112-113 promoter at early and late times in the infection.

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  • 1Department of Biology and Center for Molecular Genetics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0357, USA.


The human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) UL112-113 promoter represents a useful model for studying temporal regulation of viral gene expression. Stimulation of this promoter by the 86-kDa immediate-early protein (IE86) is controlled by sequences between nucleotides -113 and -59, which include both an ATF/CREB and an IE86 binding site. In transient assays, the ATF/CREB site is essential, and the IE86 site, although nonessential, can enhance transcription. With recombinant viruses, we have assessed the function of these promoter elements in the context of the viral genome. Transcription from the inserted UL112-113 promoter shows the same temporal pattern as the endogenous promoter, including the switch to an upstream RNA start site late in infection. Deletion of sequences containing the IE86 site results in a decrease in the level of early transcription and elimination of late transcription. In contrast, when the ATF/CREB site is deleted, early RNA synthesis is almost completely abolished, but late transcription is comparable to that of the wild type, with repositioning of the RNA start site downstream by the number of nucleotides deleted. Replacement of sequences between -108 and -95 with the HCMV cis-repression signal from the major immediate-early promoter had no effect on the level of late RNAs but resulted in the repositioning of the RNA start site 39 nucleotides upstream. These results suggest that the ATF/CREB site is functional only at early times, while sequences containing the IE86 site modulate the level of early RNAs and may be required for activating late transcription in a distance-dependent manner.

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