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J Biol Chem. 2003 Sep 26;278(39):37790-8. Epub 2003 Jul 12.

A region of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) mRNA export factor EB2 containing an arginine-rich motif mediates direct binding to RNA.

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Laboratoire de Virologie, Ens-Lyon, INSERM U 412, 46 Allée d'Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) protein EB2 (also called Mta, SM, or BMLF1) has properties in common with mRNA export factors and is essential for the production of EBV infectious virions. However, to date no RNA-binding motif essential for EB2-mediated mRNA export has been located in the protein. We show here by Northwestern blot analysis that the EB2 protein purified from mammalian cells binds directly to RNA. Furthermore, using overlapping glutathione S-transferase (GST)-EB2 peptides, we have, by RNA electrophoretic mobility shift assays (REMSAs) and Northwestern blotting, located an RNA-binding motif in a 33-amino acid segment of EB2 that has structural features of the arginine-rich RNA-binding motifs (ARMs) also found in many RNA-binding proteins. A synthetic peptide (called Da), which contains this EB2 ARM, bound RNA in REMSA. A GST-Da fusion protein also bound RNA in REMSA without apparent RNA sequence specificity, because approximately 10 GST-Da molecules bound at multiple sites on a 180-nucleotide RNA fragment. Importantly, a short deletion in the ARM region impaired both EB2 binding to RNA in vivo and in vitro and EB2-mediated mRNA export without affecting the shuttling of EB2 between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Moreover, ectopic expression of ARM-deleted EB2 did not rescue the production of infectious virions by 293 cells carrying an EBVDeltaEB2 genome, which suggests that the binding of EB2 to RNA plays an essential role in the EBV productive cycle.

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