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J Virol. 2010 Jul;84(14):7185-94. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02231-09. Epub 2010 May 5.

Human cytomegalovirus IE72 protein interacts with the transcriptional repressor hDaxx to regulate LUNA gene expression during lytic infection.

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Department of Medicine, Level 5, Box 157, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, United Kingdom.


A putative latency-associated transcript (LUNA) complementary to the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) UL81-82 region previously identified in seropositive donors' monocytes is also expressed during lytic infection. Thus, the LUNA promoter is active during both lytic and latent infection. Consequently, the mechanisms regulating this promoter may provide further insight into factors that determine whether the outcome of HCMV infection is latent or lytic. By transfection, the LUNA promoter exhibited low but reproducible activity. Substantial activation by virus infection suggested that a viral factor was important for LUNA expression during lytic infection. IE72, a known transactivator of viral promoters, activated the LUNA promoter in cotransfection assays. Furthermore, coinfection with wild-type HCMV but not an IE72 deletion virus (CR208) also activated the LUNA promoter. Finally, diminished LUNA gene expression in CR208 virus-infected cells supported a role for IE72 in LUNA gene expression. The initial regulation of herpesvirus immediate-early gene expression is associated with proteins found at cellular nuclear domain 10 (ND10) bodies, such as PML, hDaxx, and ATRX. hDaxx transfection repressed LUNA promoter activity. Furthermore, we observed binding of hDaxx to the LUNA promoter, which was abrogated by IE72 gene expression via direct interaction. Finally, we show that small interfering RNA (siRNA) knockdown of the hDaxx interaction partner ATRX rescued LUNA gene expression in CR208-infected cells. Overall, these data show that hDaxx/ATRX-mediated repression of LUNA during lytic infection absolutely requires IE72 gene expression. It also suggests that the targeting of cellular factors by IE72 is important throughout the different phases of HCMV gene expression during productive infection.

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