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Gene Expr. 1993;3(1):49-59.

The acidic activation domain of the Epstein-Barr virus transcription factor R interacts in vitro with both TBP and TFIIB and is cell-specifically potentiated by a proline-rich region.

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Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, UMR 49 CNRS-ENS, Lyon, France.


In cells latently infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the expression of two viral transactivators, EB1 and R, is responsible for the switch from latency to a productive cycle. R contains a DNA-binding/dimerization domain localized at the N-terminus. The domain required for transcriptional activation is localized at the C-terminus and contains two regions of very different amino acid composition. The first is very rich in prolines, whereas the second is rich in acidic residues and contains two potential alpha-helices. We investigated the activation potential of these subregions when linked to the heterologous Gal4 DNA-binding domain. We found that the acidic region--more precisely, the second putative alpha-helix--is an activating domain. In contrast, the proline-rich region is insufficient by itself for activation but collaborates with the acidic region in a cell-specific manner to make transactivation more efficient. We demonstrated that R interacts in vitro with the basal transcription factors TBP and TFIIB, and that the acidic domain of R mediates these interactions.

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