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J Virol. 2010 May;84(9):4383-94. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02369-09. Epub 2010 Feb 24.

Sumoylation of the Epstein-Barr virus BZLF1 protein inhibits its transcriptional activity and is regulated by the virus-encoded protein kinase.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, Department of Oncology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 1400 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706, USA.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) immediate-early protein BZLF1 (Z) mediates the switch between latent and lytic EBV infection. Z not only activates early lytic viral gene transcription but also plays a direct role in lytic viral genome replication. Although a small fraction of Z is known to be sumoylated, the effects of this posttranslational modification on various different Z functions have not been well defined. In this report, we show that only the lysine at amino acid residue 12 is required for the sumoylation of Z, and that Z can be sumoylated by SUMO isoforms 1, 2, and 3. We also demonstrate that the sumo-defective Z mutants ZK12A and ZK12R have enhanced transcriptional activity. The sumoylated and nonsumoylated forms of Z were found to have a similar cellular location, both being localized primarily within the nuclear matrix. The Z sumo-defective mutants were, however, partially defective for disrupting promyelocytic leukemia (PML) bodies compared to the ability of wild-type Z. In addition, we show that lytic viral genome replication does not require the sumoylation of Z, although a Z mutant altered at both amino acids 12 and 13 is replication defective. Furthermore, we show that the sumoylation of Z is greatly increased (from less than 1 to about 11%) in lytically induced 293 cells infected with an EBV mutant virus deleted for the EBV-encoded protein kinase (EBV-PK) compared to that of 293 cells infected with wild-type EBV, and that the overexpression of EBV-PK leads to the reduced sumoylation of Z in EBV-negative cells. Our results suggest that the sumoylation of Z helps to promote viral latency, and that EBV-PK inhibits Z sumoylation during viral reactivation.

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