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J Virol. 2010 Nov;84(22):11781-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01359-10. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

Epstein-Barr Virus SM protein utilizes cellular splicing factor SRp20 to mediate alternative splicing.

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Department of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) SM protein is an essential nuclear protein produced during the lytic cycle of EBV replication. SM is an RNA-binding protein with multiple mechanisms of action. SM enhances the expression of EBV genes by stabilizing mRNA and facilitating nuclear export. SM also influences splicing of both EBV and cellular pre-mRNAs. SM modulates splice site selection of the host cell STAT1 pre-mRNA, directing utilization of a novel 5' splice site that is used only in the presence of SM. SM activates splicing in the manner of SR proteins but does not contain the canonical RS domains typical of cellular splicing factors. Affinity purification and mass spectrometry of SM complexes from SM-transfected cells led to the identification of the cellular SR splicing factor SRp20 as an SM-interacting protein. The regions of SM and SRp20 required for interaction were mapped by in vitro and in vivo assays. The SRp20 interaction was shown to be important for the effects of SM on alternative splicing by the use of STAT1 splicing assays. Overexpression of SRp20 enhanced SM-mediated alternative splicing and knockdown of SRp20 inhibited the SM effect on splicing. These data suggest a model whereby SM, a viral protein, recruits and co-opts the function of cellular SRp20 in alternative splicing.

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