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J Virol. 2009 Aug;83(16):8041-50. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00382-09. Epub 2009 Jun 10.

Negative autoregulation of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) replicative gene expression by EBV SM protein.

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Department of Medicine, UF Shands Cancer Center, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32610, USA.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) SM protein is essential for lytic EBV DNA replication and virion production. When EBV replication is induced in cells infected with an SM-deleted recombinant EBV, approximately 50% of EBV genes are expressed inefficiently. When EBV replication is rescued by transfection of SM, SM enhances expression of these genes by direct and indirect mechanisms. While expression of most EBV genes is either unaffected or enhanced by SM, expression of several genes is decreased in the presence of SM. Expression of BHRF1, a homolog of cellular bcl-2, is particularly decreased in the presence of SM. Investigation of the mechanism of BHRF1 downregulation revealed that SM downregulates expression of the immediate-early EBV transactivator R. In EBV-infected cells, R-responsive promoters, including the BHRF1 and SM promoters, were less active in the presence of SM, consistent with SM inhibition of R expression. SM decreased spliced R mRNA levels, supporting a posttranscriptional mechanism of R inhibition. R and BHRF1 expression were also found to decrease during later stages of EBV lytic replication in EBV-infected lymphoma cells. These data indicate that feedback regulation of immediate-early and early genes occurs during the lytic cycle of EBV regulation.

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