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PLoS Pathog. 2011 Jul;7(7):e1002180. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002180. Epub 2011 Jul 28.

EBV latency types adopt alternative chromatin conformations.

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The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) can establish latent infections with distinct gene expression patterns referred to as latency types. These different latency types are epigenetically stable and correspond to different promoter utilization. Here we explore the three-dimensional conformations of the EBV genome in different latency types. We employed Chromosome Conformation Capture (3C) assay to investigate chromatin loop formation between the OriP enhancer and the promoters that determine type I (Qp) or type III (Cp) gene expression. We show that OriP is in close physical proximity to Qp in type I latency, and to Cp in type III latency. The cellular chromatin insulator and boundary factor CTCF was implicated in EBV chromatin loop formation. Combining 3C and ChIP assays we found that CTCF is physically associated with OriP-Qp loop formation in type I and OriP-Cp loop formation in type III latency. Mutations in the CTCF binding site located at Qp disrupt loop formation between Qp and OriP, and lead to the activation of Cp transcription. Mutation of the CTCF binding site at Cp, as well as siRNA depletion of CTCF eliminates both OriP-associated loops, indicating that CTCF plays an integral role in loop formation. These data indicate that epigenetically stable EBV latency types adopt distinct chromatin architectures that depend on CTCF and mediate alternative promoter targeting by the OriP enhancer.

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