CTCF binding to the first intron of the major immediate-early (MIE) gene of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) negatively regulates MIE gene expression and HCMV replication

Journal of Virology (Impact Factor: 4.44). 04/2014; 88(13). DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00845-14
Source: PubMed


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) gene expression during infection is highly regulated, with sequential expression of immediate- early (IE), early (E), and late (L) gene transcripts. To explore the potential role of chromatin regulatory factors that may regulate HCMV gene expression and DNA replication, we investigated the interaction of HCMV with the cellular chromatin-organizing factor CTCF. Here, we show that HCMV-infected cells produce higher levels of CTCF mRNA and protein at early stages of infection. We also show that CTCF depletion by short hairpin RNA results in an increase in major IE (MIE) and E gene expression and an about 50-fold increase in HCMV particle production. We identified a DNA sequence (TTAACGGTGGAGGGCAG TGT) in the first intron (intron A) of the MIE gene that interacts directly with CTCF. Deletion of this CTCF-binding site led to an increase in MIE gene expression in both transient-transfection and infection assays. Deletion of the CTCF-binding site in the HCMV bacterial artificial chromosome plasmid genome resulted in an about 10-fold increase in the rate of viral replication relative to either wild-type or revertant HCMV. The CTCF-binding site deletion had no detectable effect on MIE gene-splicing regulation, nor did CTCF knockdown or overexpression of CTCF alter the ratio of IE1 to IE2. Therefore, CTCF binds to DNA within the MIE gene at the position of the first intron to affect RNA polymerase II function during the early stages of viral transcription. Finally, the CTCF-binding sequence in CMV is evolutionarily conserved, as a similar sequence in murine CMV (MCMV) intron A was found to interact with CTCF and similarly function in the repression of MCMV MIE gene expression mediated by CTCF.

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Available from: Zhong Deng, Apr 24, 2014
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