The latency-associated nuclear antigen from Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), kLANA, and its homolog from the murid herpesvirus 4 (MuHV-4), mLANA, are essential for viral latency. kLANA is nearly four times the size of mLANA, mainly due to an extensive central repeat region that is absent in mLANA. Both proteins harbor a C-terminal DNA binding domain (DBD). The DBD binds the terminal repeat (TR) DNA sequences of the viral genome to mediate persistence. Despite structural conservation, the kLANA and mLANA DBDs differ in sequence and mode of oligomerization. kLANA DBD oligomers are flexible and bent, while mLANA DBD oligomers bind DNA in a rigid, linear conformation. We previously reported that kLANA and mLANA acted reciprocally on TR sequences. Furthermore, a MuHV-4 expressing kLANA instead of mLANA (v-kLANA) established latency in mice, albeit at a lower magnitude than the wild-type (WT) virus. Here, we asked if kLANA can accommodate the mLANA DBD and generated a fusion protein which contains kLANA but with the mLANA C-terminal region in place of that of kLANA. We report a recombinant MuHV-4 (v-KM) encoding this LANA fusion protein instead of mLANA. The fusion protein was expressed in lytic infection in vitro and assembled nuclear LANA dots in infected splenocytes. Results demonstrated that kLANA functionally accommodated mLANA's mode of DNA binding, allowing MuHV-4 chimeric virus to establish latency in vivo. Notably, v-KM established latency in germinal center B cells more efficiently than did v-kLANA, although levels were reduced compared to WT MuHV-4. IMPORTANCE KSHV is a human oncogenic virus for which there is no tractable, immunocompetent animal model of infection. MuHV-4, a related rodent gammaherpesvirus, enables pathogenesis studies in mice. In latency, both viruses persist as extrachromosomal, circular genomes (episomes). LANA proteins encoded by KSHV (kLANA) and MuHV-4 (mLANA) contain a C-terminal DNA binding domain (DBD) that acts on the virus terminal repeats to enable episome persistence. mLANA is a smaller protein than kLANA. Their DBDs are structurally conserved but differ strikingly in the conformation of DNA binding. We report a recombinant, chimeric MuHV-4 which contains kLANA in place of mLANA, but in which the DBD is replaced with that of mLANA. Results showed that kLANA functionally accommodated mLANA's mode of DNA binding. In fact, the new chimeric virus established latency in vivo more efficiently than MuHV-4 expressing full-length kLANA.
- Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus
- Murid herpesvirus 4