RNA polymerase II stalling promotes nucleosome occlusion and pTEFb recruitment to drive immortalization by Epstein-Barr virus

Palermo, Richard D, Webb, Helen M and West, Michelle J (2011) RNA polymerase II stalling promotes nucleosome occlusion and pTEFb recruitment to drive immortalization by Epstein-Barr virus. PLoS Pathogens, 7 (10). e1002334. ISSN 1553-7374

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Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) immortalizes resting B-cells and is a key etiologic agent in the development of numerous cancers. The essential EBV-encoded protein EBNA 2 activates the viral C promoter (Cp) producing a message of ~120 kb that is differentially spliced to encode all EBNAs required for immortalization. We have previously shown that EBNA 2-activated transcription is dependent on the activity of the RNA polymerase II (pol II) C-terminal domain (CTD) kinase pTEFb (CDK9/cyclin T1). We now demonstrate that Cp, in contrast to two shorter EBNA 2-activated viral genes (LMP 1 and 2A), displays high levels of promoter-proximally stalled pol II despite being constitutively active. Consistent with pol II stalling, we detect considerable pausing complex (NELF/DSIF) association with Cp. Significantly, we observe substantial Cp-specific pTEFb recruitment that stimulates high-level pol II CTD serine 2 phosphorylation at distal regions (up to +75 kb), promoting elongation. We reveal that Cp-specific pol II accumulation is directed by DNA sequences unfavourable for nucleosome assembly that increase TBP access and pol II recruitment. Stalled pol II then maintains Cp nucleosome depletion. Our data indicate that pTEFb is recruited to Cp by the bromodomain protein Brd4, with polymerase stalling facilitating stable association of pTEFb. The Brd4 inhibitor JQ1 and the pTEFb inhibitors DRB and Flavopiridol significantly reduce Cp, but not LMP1 transcript production indicating that Brd4 and pTEFb are required for Cp transcription. Taken together our data indicate that pol II stalling at Cp promotes transcription of essential immortalizing genes during EBV infection by (i) preventing promoter-proximal nucleosome assembly and ii) necessitating the recruitment of pTEFb thereby maintaining serine 2 CTD phosphorylation at distal regions.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biochemistry
Subjects: Q Science
Depositing User: Richard Palermo
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 21:06
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 06:08
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/29476

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