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J Virol. 2016 Oct 28;90(22):10083-10101. Print 2016 Nov 15.

Imperfect Symmetry of Sp1 and Core Promoter Sequences Regulates Early and Late Virus Gene Expression of the Bidirectional BK Polyomavirus Noncoding Control Region.

Author information

1
Transplantation & Clinical Virology, Department of Biomedicine (Haus Petersplatz), University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
2
Transplantation & Clinical Virology, Department of Biomedicine (Haus Petersplatz), University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland hans.hirsch@unibas.ch.
3
Division of Infection Diagnostics, Department of Biomedicine (Haus Petersplatz), University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
4
Infectious Diseases & Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

Abstract

Rearrangements or point mutations in the noncoding control region (NCCR) of BK polyomavirus (BKPyV) have been associated with higher viral loads and more pronounced organ pathology in immunocompromised patients. The respective alterations affect a multitude of transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) but consistently cause increased expression of the early viral gene region (EVGR) at the expense of late viral gene region (LVGR) expression. By mutating TFBS, we identified three phenotypic groups leading to strong, intermediate, or impaired EVGR expression and corresponding BKPyV replication. Unexpectedly, Sp1 TFBS mutants either activated or inhibited EVGR expression when located proximal to the LVGR (sp1-4) or the EVGR (sp1-2), respectively. We now demonstrate that the bidirectional balance of EVGR and LVGR expression is dependent on affinity, strand orientation, and the number of Sp1 sites. Swapping the LVGR-proximal high-affinity SP1-4 with the EVGR-proximal low-affinity SP1-2 in site strand flipping or inserting an additional SP1-2 site caused a rearranged NCCR phenotype of increased EVGR expression and faster BKPyV replication. The 5' rapid amplification of cDNA ends revealed an imperfect symmetry between the EVGR- and LVGR-proximal parts of the NCCR, consisting of TATA and TATA-like elements, initiator elements, and downstream promoter elements. Mutation or deletion of the archetypal LVGR promoter, which is found in activated NCCR variants, abrogated LVGR expression, which could be restored by providing large T antigen (LTag) in trans Thus, whereas Sp1 sites control the initial EVGR-LVGR expression balance, LTag expression can override inactivation of the LVGR promoter and acts as a key driver of LVGR expression independently of the Sp1 sites and core promoter elements.

IMPORTANCE:

Polyomaviridae currently comprise more than 70 members, including 13 human polyomaviruses (PyVs), all of which share a bidirectional genome organization mediated by the NCCR, which determines species and host cell specificity, persistence, replication, and virulence. Here, we demonstrate that the BKPyV NCCR is fine-tuned by an imperfect symmetry of core promoter elements centered around TATA and TATA-like sequences close to the EVGR and LVGR, respectively, which are governed by the directionality and affinity of two Sp1 sites. The data indicated that the BKPyV NCCR is poised toward EVGR expression, which can be readily unlatched by a simple switch affecting Sp1 binding. The resulting LTag, which is the major EVGR protein, drives viral genome replication, renders subsequent LVGR expression independently of archetypal promoter elements, and can overcome enhancer/promoter mutations and deletions. The data are pivotal for understanding how human PyV NCCRs mediate secondary host cell specificity, reactivation, and virulence in their natural hosts.

PMID:
27581987
PMCID:
PMC5105647
DOI:
10.1128/JVI.01008-16
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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