Functional domains of Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen EBNA-1

Richard F. Ambinder, Maryann Mullen, Yung Nien Chang, Gary S. Hayward, S. Diane Hayward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-encoded latency product EBNA-1 is functionally pleiotropic, being required for replication of the episomal form of the EBV genome and having a role in the regulation of latency transcription. EBNA-1 is a direct DNA-binding protein, and both replication and transactivation are dependent on the interaction of EBNA-1 with its cognate DNA recognition sequences. To better understand EBNA-1 function, we have further characterized the DNA-binding domain of EBNA-1 and have examined the contributions of other domains of the protein to EBNA-1 transactivation activity. A Bal31 deletional analysis of the carboxy-terminal region of EBNA-1 identified a core DNA-binding domain located between amino acids 493 and 584. Column chromatographic, sedimentation, and cross-linking studies indicated that EBNA-1 exists in solution as a dimer. Mobility retardation assays using in vitro-translated variants of EBNA-1 showed that the active DNA-binding form of EBNA-1 is also a dimer. In short-term cotransfections, a pFRTK-CAT target containing EBNA-1-binding sites from the EBV origin of plasmid replication, ori-P, was transactivated by a carboxy-terminal EBNA-1 construction (amino acids 450 to 641) that also carried a c-myc nuclear localization signal. These reconstruction experiments demonstrated that a transactivation domain exists within the carboxy-terminal region of EBNA-1, that transactivation is more efficient when a nuclear localization signal is present, and that the natural karyophilic signal lies outside of the carboxy-terminal 191 amino acids. To identify the EBNA-1 nuclear localization signal, small oligonucleotides representing EBNA-1 sequences that encode clusters of basic peptides were transferred into two different vectors expressing cytoplasmic proteins (pyruvate kinase and herpes simplex virus ΔIE175 protein) and the cellular locations of the fusion constructions were determined by immunofluorescence staining of transfected cells. In this way we identified a functional nuclear localization signal, Leu-Lys-Arg-Pro-Arg-Ser-Pro-Ser-Ser, encompassing amino acids 379 to 386 of the EBNA-1 protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1466-1478
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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