The Epstein-Barr virus EBNA-1 promoter Qp requires an initiator-like element

Carol Nonkwelo, Ingrid K. Ruf, Jeffery Sample

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31 Scopus citations


Expression of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) EBNA-1 protein within EBV- positive tumor cells and subpopulations of latently infected B lymphocytes in vivo is mediated by the promoter Qp. Previous studies have established that Qp is a TATA-less promoter whose activation requires only proximal regulatory elements and that it is negatively autoregulated through two EBNA-1 binding sites downstream of the transcription initiation sites. The objective of this study was to better define the properties of an essential positive regulatory element (QRE-2) adjacent to a major transcription start site of Qp and to evaluate the contributions of other potential regulatory elements proximal to the Qp start site. Using DNA affinity purification and UV cross-linking, we have identified the QRE-2-binding protein as a single polypeptide of ~40 kDa. The DNA-binding properties of this protein are clearly distinct from those of the TATA-binding protein, suggesting that in the absence of a TATA box, QRE-2 may function as an initiator element to direct assembly of TFIID near the transcription start site. Mutational analysis of potential regulatory elements, furthermore, indicated that the putative E2F binding sites within the EBNA-1 binding domain can exert a positive influence on Qp that is EBNA-1 independent, suggesting that these regulatory elements play an additional if not different role in Qp regulation than previously proposed. A model for the regulation of Qp consistent with the current and previous findings which provides for a simple but efficient mechanism of ensuring the EBNA-1 expression necessary to sustain long-term latency is presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-361
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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