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Transcriptional activation by the human cytomegalovirus immediate-early proteins: requirements for simple promoter structures and interactions with multiple components of the transcription complex

Lukac, D.M.; Manuppello, J.R.; Alwine, J.C.

Journal of Virology 68(8): 5184-5193

1994


ISSN/ISBN: 0022-538X
PMID: 8035517
Accession: 009661418

We have utilized a number of well-defined, simple, synthetic promoters (upstream factor binding sites and TATA elements) to analyze the activation mechanisms of the human cytomegalovirus immediate-early (IE) proteins. We found that the 86-kDa IE protein (known as IEP86, IE2(559aa), or ppUL122a) can recognize and activate a variety of simple promoters, in agreement with the observation that it is a promiscuous activator. However, in the comparison of otherwise identical promoters IEP86 does have preferences for specific TATA elements (hsp70 > adenovirus E2 > simian virus 40 early) and specific upstream transcription factor binding sites (CAAT > SP1 approximately Tef-1 > ATF; no activation with AP1 or OCT). In contrast, the 72-kDa IE protein (known as IEP72, IE1(491aa), or ppUL123) alone did not significantly activate the simple promoters under our experimental conditions. However, each promoter activated by IEP86 was synergistically affected by the addition of IEP72. In addition, the 55-kDa IE protein (IEP55, a splice variant form of IE2, IE2(425aa), or ppUL122b) repeatedly had a negative effect, downregulating the activation of promoters caused by IEP86 and the synergy of IEP86 and IEP72. We show that the ability of IEP86 to activate many simple promoters correlates not only with its previously described ability to interact with the TATA-binding protein (TBP) (B. A. Furnari, E. Poma, T. F. Kowalik, S.-M. Huong, and E.-S. Huang, J. Virol. 67:4981-4991, 1993; C. Hagemeier, S. Walker, R. Caswell, T. Kouzarides, and J. Sinclair, J. Virol. 66:4452-4456, 1992; R. Jupp, S. Hoffman, R. M. Stenberg, J. A. Nelson, and P. Ghazal, J. Virol. 67:7539-7546, 1993) but also with its ability to interact with the transcription factors which bind to the upstream element of promoters it activated (e.g., SP1 and Tef-1 but not Oct-1). This ability to have multiple interactions with the promoter complex may be crucial for transcriptional activation, since the IE proteins cannot activate promoters having only a TATA element or only an upstream transcription factor binding site. In addition, we show that proteins which bind IEP86 also bind to IEP55. Thus, the negative effect on transcription noted with IEP55 may be the result of competition with IEP86 for interaction with the promoter complex. The synergy caused by IEP72 appears to be mediated by a more indirect mechanism. This is suggested by our observation that IEP72 could not bind to any of the proteins tested (TBP, Tef-1, or Oct-1) or to IEP86.

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