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Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and lytic replication are known to induce a cellular DNA damage response. We previously showed that the virally encoded BPLF1 protein interacts with and regulates several members of the translesion synthesis (TLS) pathway, a DNA damage tolerance pathway, and that these cellular factors enhance viral infectivity. BPLF1 is a late lytic cycle gene, but the protein is also packaged in the viral tegument, indicating that BPLF1 may function both early and late during infection. The BPLF1 protein expresses deubiquitinating activity that is strictly conserved across the Herpesviridae; mutation of the active site cysteine results in a loss of enzymatic activity. Infection with an EBV BPLF1 knockout virus results in decreased EBV infectivity. Polymerase eta (Pol η), a specialized DNA repair polymerase, functions in TLS and allows for DNA replication complexes to bypass lesions in DNA. Here we report that BPLF1 interacts with Pol η and that Pol η protein levels are increased in the presence of functional BPLF1. BPLF1 promotes a nuclear relocalization of Pol η molecules which are focus-like in appearance, consistent with the localization observed when Pol η is recruited to sites of DNA damage. Knockdown of Pol η resulted in decreased production of infectious virus, and further, Pol η was found to bind to EBV DNA, suggesting that it may allow for bypass of damaged viral DNA during its replication. The results suggest a mechanism by which EBV recruits cellular repair factors, such as Pol η, to sites of viral DNA damage via BPLF1, thereby allowing for efficient viral DNA replication.IMPORTANCE Epstein-Barr virus is the causative agent of infectious mononucleosis and infects approximately 90% of the world's population. It causes lymphomas in individuals with acquired and innate immune disorders and is strongly associated with Hodgkin's lymphoma, Burkitt's lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphomas, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), and lymphomas that develop in organ transplant recipients. Cellular DNA damage is a major determinant in the establishment of oncogenic processes and is well studied, but there are few studies of endogenous repair of viral DNA. This work evaluates how EBV's BPLF1 protein and its conserved deubiquitinating activity regulate the cellular DNA repair enzyme polymerase eta and recruit it to potential sites of viral damage and replication, resulting in enhanced production of infectious virus. These findings help to establish how EBV enlists and manipulates cellular DNA repair factors during the viral lytic cycle, contributing to efficient infectious virion production. Copyright © 2017 American Society for Microbiology.


Ossie F Dyson, Joseph S Pagano, Christopher B Whitehurst. The Translesion Polymerase Pol η Is Required for Efficient Epstein-Barr Virus Infectivity and Is Regulated by the Viral Deubiquitinating Enzyme BPLF1. Journal of virology. 2017 Oct 01;91(19)

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PMID: 28724765

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