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Front Microbiol. 2012 Feb 22;3:60. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00060. eCollection 2012.

Ser-634 and Ser-636 of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus RTA are Involved in Transactivation and are Potential Cdk9 Phosphorylation Sites.

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1
National Institute of Cancer Research, National Health Research Institutes Zhunan Town, Miaoli County, Taiwan.

Abstract

The replication and transcription activator (RTA) of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), K-RTA, is a lytic switch protein that moderates the reactivation process of KSHV latency. By mass spectrometric analysis of affinity purified K-RTA, we showed that Thr-513 or Thr-514 was the primary in vivo phosphorylation site. Thr-513 and Thr-514 are proximal to the nuclear localization signal ((527)KKRK(530)) and were previously hypothesized to be target sites of Ser/Thr kinase hKFC. However, substitutions of Thr with Ala at 513 and 514 had no effect on K-RTA subcellular localization or transactivation activity. By contrast, replacement of Ser with Ala at Ser-634 and Ser-636 located in a Ser/Pro-rich region of K-RTA, designated as S634A/S636A, produced a polypeptide with ∼10 kDa shorter in molecular weight and reduced transactivation in a luciferase reporter assay relative to the wild type. In contrast to prediction, the decrease in molecular weight was not due to lack of phosphorylation because the overall Ser and Thr phosphorylation state in K-RTA and S634A/S636A were similar, excluding that Ser-634 or Ser-636 motif served as docking sites for consecutive phosphorylation. Interestingly, S634A/S636A lost ∼30% immuno-reactivity to MPM2, an antibody specific to pSer/pThr-Pro motif, indicating that (634)SPSP(637) motif was in vivo phosphorylated. By in vitro kinase assay, we showed that K-RTA is a substrate of CDK9, a Pro-directed Ser/Thr kinase central to transcriptional regulation. Importantly, the capability of K-RTA in associating with endogenous CDK9 was reduced in S634A/S636A, which suggested that Ser-634 and Ser-636 may be involved in CDK9 recruitment. In agreement, S634A/S636A mutant exhibited ∼25% reduction in KSHV lytic cycle reactivation relative to that by the wild type K-RTA. Taken together, our data propose that Ser-634 and Ser-636 of K-RTA are phosphorylated by host transcriptional kinase CDK9 and such a process contributes to a full transcriptional potency of K-RTA.

KEYWORDS:

CDK9; Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus; negative elongation factor B; phosphorylation; replication and transcription activator

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