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EMBO J. 1993 Dec 15;12(13):4933-44.

Constitutive binding of EBNA1 protein to the Epstein-Barr virus replication origin, oriP, with distortion of DNA structure during latent infection.

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Department of Human Genetics, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263.


Replication of the circular, 170 kb genome of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) during latent infection is performed by the cellular replication machinery under cell-cycle control. A single viral protein, EBNA1, directs the cellular replication apparatus to initiate replication within the genetically defined replication origin, oriP, at a cluster of four EBNA1 binding sites, referred to here as the physical origin of bidirectional replication, or OBR. A second cluster of EBNA1 binding sites within oriP, the 30 bp repeats, serves an essential role as a replication enhancer and also provides a distinct episome maintenance function that is unrelated to replication. We examined the functional elements of oriP for binding by EBNA1 and possibly other proteins in proliferating Raji cells by generating in vivo footprints using two reagents, dimethylsulfate (DMS) and KMnO4. We also employed deoxyribonuclease I (DNase I) with permeabilized cells. The in vivo and permeabilized cell footprints at the EBNA1 binding sites, particularly those obtained using DMS, gave strong evidence that all of these sites are bound by EBNA1 in asynchronously dividing cells. No consistent evidence was found to suggest binding by other proteins at any other sites within the functional regions of oriP. Thymines at symmetrical positions of the OBR within oriP were oxidized when cells were treated with permanganate, suggestive of bends or other distortions of DNA structure at these positions; binding of EBNA1 in vitro to total DNA from Raji cells induced reactivity to permanganate at identical positions. The simplest interpretation of the results, which were obtained using asynchronously dividing cells, is that EBNA1 binds to its sites at oriP and holds the OBR in a distorted conformation throughout most of the cell cycle, implying that replication is initiated by a cellular mechanism and is not limited by an availability of EBNA1 for binding to oriP.

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