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J Virol. 2007 Aug;81(16):8451-67. Epub 2007 May 30.

Direct interactions of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus/human herpesvirus 8 ORF50/Rta protein with the cellular protein octamer-1 and DNA are critical for specifying transactivation of a delayed-early promoter and stimulating viral reactivation.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/New Jersey Medical School, 225 Warren Street, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.


The Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) delayed-early K-bZIP promoter contains an ORF50/Rta binding site whose sequence is conserved with the ORF57 promoter. Mutation of the site in the full-length K-bZIP promoter reduced Rta-mediated transactivation by greater than 80%. The K-bZIP element contains an octamer (Oct) binding site that overlaps the Rta site and is well conserved with Oct elements found in the immediate-early promoters of herpes simplex virus type 1(HSV-1). The cellular protein Oct-1, but not Oct-2, binds to the K-bZIP element in a sequence-specific fashion in vitro and in vivo and stimulates Rta binding to the promoter DNA. The coexpression of Oct-1 enhances Rta-mediated transactivation of the wild type but not the mutant K-bZIP promoter, and Oct-1 and Rta proteins bind to each other directly in vitro. Mutations of Rta within an amino acid sequence conserved with HSV-1 virion protein 16 eliminate Rta's interactions with Oct-1 and K-bZIP promoter DNA but not RBP-Jk. The binding of Rta to both Oct-1 and DNA contributes to the transactivation of the K-bZIP promoter and viral reactivation, and Rta mutants deficient for both interactions are completely debilitated. Our data suggest that the Rta/Oct-1 interaction is essential for optimal KSHV reactivation. Transfections of mouse embryo fibroblasts and an endothelial cell line suggest cell-specific differences in the requirement for Oct-1 or RBP-Jk in Rta-mediated transactivation of the K-bZIP promoter. We propose a model in which Rta transactivation of the promoter is specified by the combination of DNA binding and interactions with several cellular DNA binding proteins including Oct-1.

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