Late gene expression follows and is dependent upon lyric replication of the vital genome. Although experimental evidence is lacking, lytic viral DNA replication is believed to remove modifications or binding factors from the genome which serve to repress late gene expression during latency or the early lytic cycle. We have developed a reporter assay to begin characterizing the mechanisms that regulate late gene expression in Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). In this model system, the activities of late promoter-reporter fusions are measured following transient transfection into tissue culture cells expressing EBV during different stages of the lytic cycle. This system faithfully recapitulates late expression patterns from the endogenous virus, implicating specific cis-active sequences in the control of late gene expression. In addition, these promoters respond only indirectly to the viral immediate-early transactivator, ZEBRA. This indirect response is mediated by other viral or virally induced activities downstream of ZEBRA in the lyric cascade. In this system, late gene expression is sensitive to inhibitors of the viral DNA polymerase such as phosphonoacetic acid, although the reporters lack a eukaryotic origin of replication and are not replicated under the assay conditions. Thus, replication of the transcriptional template is not a prerequisite for expression with late kinetics, a finding inconsistent with the current models which posit a cis-active relationship between lytic EBV DNA replication and late gene expression. Rather, analysis of this system has revealed a trans relationship between late gene expression and viral DNA replication and highlights the indirect and complex link between these two events.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science