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Nucleic Acids Res. 2018 Apr 6;46(6):2802-2819. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky129.

Translational profiling of B cells infected with the Epstein-Barr virus reveals 5' leader ribosome recruitment through upstream open reading frames.

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German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), F100, Pathogenesis of Virus Associated Tumors, Im Neuenheimer Feld 242, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
Inserm unit U1074, DKFZ, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Core Facility Genomics & Proteomics, Im Neuenheimer Feld 580, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genome encodes several hundred transcripts. We have used ribosome profiling to characterize viral translation in infected cells and map new translation initiation sites. We show here that EBV transcripts are translated with highly variable efficiency, owing to variable transcription and translation rates, variable ribosome recruitment to the leader region and coverage by monosomes versus polysomes. Some transcripts were hardly translated, others mainly carried monosomes, showed ribosome accumulation in leader regions and most likely represent non-coding RNAs. A similar process was visible for a subset of lytic genes including the key transactivators BZLF1 and BRLF1 in cells infected with weakly replicating EBV strains. This suggests that ribosome trapping, particularly in the leader region, represents a new checkpoint for the repression of lytic replication. We could identify 25 upstream open reading frames (uORFs) located upstream of coding transcripts that displayed 5' leader ribosome trapping, six of which were located in the leader region shared by many latent transcripts. These uORFs repressed viral translation and are likely to play an important role in the regulation of EBV translation.

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