During herpes simplex virus (HSV) latency, in neurons of the nervous system, a single family of viral transcripts (the Latency-Associated Transcripts or LATs) are synthesized. Within the LAT promoter region, we have identified a consensus sequence for the EGR proteins in an unusual position immediately downstream of the TATA box. The early growth response (EGR) proteins are rapidly induced in cells by stimuli which also induce HSV to reactivate from latency. In order to determine if EGR proteins play any role in control of LAT transcription, we have analyzed the interactions between EGR proteins and the LAT promoter. Gel retardation and DNase I protection assays demonstrated that EGR1 zinc finger protein bound specifically to the LAT promoter region EGR consensus sequence. To determine if EGR proteins could modulate transcription through the LAT promoter, cotransfection assays were performed using chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter constructs driven by either the wild-type LAT promoter or a LAT promoter with a mutated EGR binding site. Cotransfection of the wild-type LAT promoter construct with EGR expression plasmids resulted in inhibition of the basal level of CAT activity with EGR-2 but not EGR-1 or 3. However, normal levels of CAT activity were observed in cotransfections using the mutant LAT promoter CAT construct suggesting that repression was mediated by the binding of EGR-2 proteins to the LAT promoter. Furthermore, data from combination binding assays using EGR1 and TATA binding protein (TBP) in vitro support the hypothesis that binding of EGR proteins to the LAT promoter prevents binding of TBP and thus suppresses transcription. These results may provide a link between stress responses in neurons of the CNS which activate the EGR family of proteins and HSV reactivation from latency due to the same stress response.
- Gene regulation
- Viral latency
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience