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J Virol. 2003 Jan;77(2):1357-67.

Mouse cytomegalovirus immediate-early protein 1 binds with host cell repressors to relieve suppressive effects on viral transcription and replication during lytic infection.

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The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Herpesviruses start their transcriptional cascade at nuclear domain 10 (ND10). The deposition of virus genomes at these nuclear sites occurs due to the binding of the interferon-inducible repressor protein promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML) and/or Daxx to a viral DNA-protein complex. However, the presence of repressive proteins at the nuclear site of virus transcription has remained unexplained. We investigated the mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV) immediate-early 1 protein (IE1), which is necessary for productive infection at low multiplicities of infection and therefore likely to be involved in overcoming cellular repression. Temporal analysis of IE1 distribution revealed its initial segregation into ND10 by binding to PML and/or Daxx and IE1-dependent recruitment of the transcriptional repressor histone deacetylase-2 (HDAC-2) to this site. However, these protein aggregates are dissociated in cells producing sufficient IE1 through titration of PML, Daxx, and HDAC-2. Importantly, binding of IE1 to HDAC-2 decreased deacetylation activity. Moreover, inhibition of HDAC by trichostatin-A resulted in an increase in viral protein synthesis, an increase in cells starting the formation of prereplication compartments, and an increase in the total infectious viruses produced. Thus, IE1, like trichostatin-A, reverses the repressive effect of HDAC evident in the presence of acetylated histones in the immediate-early promoter region. Since HDAC also binds to the promoter region of IE1, as determined by the chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, these combined results suggest that IE1 inhibits or reverses HDAC-mediated repression of the infecting viral genomes, possibly by a process akin to activation of heterochromatin. We propose that even permissive cells can repress transcription of infecting viral genomes through repressors, including HDAC, Daxx, and PML, and the segregation of IE1 to ND10 that would inactivate those repressors. The virus can counter this repression by overexpressing IE1 when present in sufficient copy number, thus reducing the availability and effectiveness of these repressors.

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