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1.  Ser-634 and Ser-636 of Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus RTA are Involved in Transactivation and are Potential Cdk9 Phosphorylation Sites 
The replication and transcription activator (RTA) of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), K-RTA, is a lytic switch protein that moderates the reactivation process of KSHV latency. By mass spectrometric analysis of affinity purified K-RTA, we showed that Thr-513 or Thr-514 was the primary in vivo phosphorylation site. Thr-513 and Thr-514 are proximal to the nuclear localization signal (527KKRK530) and were previously hypothesized to be target sites of Ser/Thr kinase hKFC. However, substitutions of Thr with Ala at 513 and 514 had no effect on K-RTA subcellular localization or transactivation activity. By contrast, replacement of Ser with Ala at Ser-634 and Ser-636 located in a Ser/Pro-rich region of K-RTA, designated as S634A/S636A, produced a polypeptide with ∼10 kDa shorter in molecular weight and reduced transactivation in a luciferase reporter assay relative to the wild type. In contrast to prediction, the decrease in molecular weight was not due to lack of phosphorylation because the overall Ser and Thr phosphorylation state in K-RTA and S634A/S636A were similar, excluding that Ser-634 or Ser-636 motif served as docking sites for consecutive phosphorylation. Interestingly, S634A/S636A lost ∼30% immuno-reactivity to MPM2, an antibody specific to pSer/pThr-Pro motif, indicating that 634SPSP637 motif was in vivo phosphorylated. By in vitro kinase assay, we showed that K-RTA is a substrate of CDK9, a Pro-directed Ser/Thr kinase central to transcriptional regulation. Importantly, the capability of K-RTA in associating with endogenous CDK9 was reduced in S634A/S636A, which suggested that Ser-634 and Ser-636 may be involved in CDK9 recruitment. In agreement, S634A/S636A mutant exhibited ∼25% reduction in KSHV lytic cycle reactivation relative to that by the wild type K-RTA. Taken together, our data propose that Ser-634 and Ser-636 of K-RTA are phosphorylated by host transcriptional kinase CDK9 and such a process contributes to a full transcriptional potency of K-RTA.
PMCID: PMC3283893  PMID: 22371709
Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus; replication and transcription activator; phosphorylation; negative elongation factor B; CDK9
2.  Suppressive Regulation of KSHV RTA with O-GlcNAcylation 
The replication and transcription activator (RTA) of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is a molecular switch that initiates a productive replication of latent KSHV genomes. KSHV RTA (K-RTA) is composed of 691 amino acids with high Ser and Thr content (17.7%), but to what extent these Ser and Thr are modified in vivo has not been explored.
By using tandem mass spectrometric analysis of affinity-purified FLAG tagged K-RTA, we sought to identify Ser and Thr residues that are post-translationally modified in K-RTA.
We found that K-RTA is an O-GlcNAcylated protein and Thr-366/Thr-367 is the primary motif with O-GlcNAcylation in vivo. The biological significance of O-GlcNAc modified Thr-366 and Thr-367 was assessed by site-specific amino acid substitution. Replacement of Thr with Ala at amino acid 366 or 367 caused a modest enhancement of K-RTA transactivation activity in a luciferase reporter assay and a cell model for KSHV reactivation. By using co-immunoprecipitation coupled with western blot analysis, we showed that the capacity of K-RTA in associating with endogenous PARP1 was significantly reduced in the Thr-366/Thr-367 O-GlcNAc mutants. PARP1 is a documented negative regulator of K-RTA that can be ascribed by the attachment of large negatively charged polymer onto K-RTA via PARP1's poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase activity. In agreement, shRNA-mediated depletion of O-GlcNAc transferase (OGT) in KSHV infected cells augmented viral reactivation and virus production that was accompanied by diminished K-RTA and PARP1 complexes.
KSHV latent-lytic switch K-RTA is modified by cellular O-GlcNAcylation, which imposes a negative effect on K-RTA transactivation activity. This inhibitory effect involves OGT and PARP1, two nutritional sensors recently emerging as chromatin modifiers. Thus, we speculate that the activity of K-RTA on its target genes is continuously checked and modulated by OGT and PARP1 in response to cellular metabolic state.
PMCID: PMC3395832  PMID: 22300411
KSHV; K-RTA; O-GlcNAcylation; PARP1; Polycomb group (PcG) complex
3.  Epstein–Barr Virus (EBV) Rta-Mediated EBV and Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Lytic Reactivations in 293 Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17809.
Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) Rta belongs to a lytic switch gene family that is evolutionarily conserved in all gamma-herpesviruses. Emerging evidence indicates that cell cycle arrest is a common means by which herpesviral immediate-early protein hijacks the host cell to advance the virus's lytic cycle progression. To examine the role of Rta in cell cycle regulation, we recently established a doxycycline (Dox)-inducible Rta system in 293 cells. In this cell background, inducible Rta modulated the levels of signature G1 arrest proteins, followed by induction of the cellular senescence marker, SA-β-Gal. To delineate the relationship between Rta-induced cell growth arrest and EBV reactivation, recombinant viral genomes were transferred into Rta-inducible 293 cells. Somewhat unexpectedly, we found that Dox-inducible Rta reactivated both EBV and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), to similar efficacy. As a consequence, the Rta-mediated EBV and KSHV lytic replication systems, designated as EREV8 and ERKV, respectively, were homogenous, robust, and concurrent with cell death likely due to permissive lytic replication. In addition, the expression kinetics of EBV lytic genes in Dox-treated EREV8 cells was similar to that of their KSHV counterparts in Dox-induced ERKV cells, suggesting that a common pathway is used to disrupt viral latency in both cell systems. When the time course was compared, cell cycle arrest was achieved between 6 and 48 h, EBV or KSHV reactivation was initiated abruptly at 48 h, and the cellular senescence marker was not detected until 120 h after Dox treatment. These results lead us to hypothesize that in 293 cells, Rta-induced G1 cell cycle arrest could provide (1) an ideal environment for virus reactivation if EBV or KSHV coexists and (2) a preparatory milieu for cell senescence if no viral genome is available. The latter is hypothetical in a transient-lytic situation.
PMCID: PMC3053391  PMID: 21423768
4.  Streptococcal Pyrogenic Exotoxin B-Induced Apoptosis in A549 Cells Is Mediated through αvβ3 Integrin and Fas▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(4):1349-1357.
Our previous work suggested that streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin (SPE) B-induced apoptosis is mediated through a receptor-like mechanism. In this study, we have identified αvβ3 and Fas as the SPE B receptors for this function. The SPE B fragment without the RGD motif and G308S, a SPE B mutant with the RSD motif, induced less apoptosis than did native SPE B, suggesting that the RGD motif is critical for SPE B-induced apoptosis. Fluorescein isothiocyanate-SPE B binding assays and immunoprecipitation analysis showed that SPE B specifically interacted with αvβ3. Anti-αvβ3 antibody partially inhibited SPE B-induced apoptosis but had no effect on G308S-induced apoptosis. In addition, Fas binding to SPE B was verified in an affinity column and an immunoprecipitation analysis. Anti-Fas antibody inhibited SPE B- and G308S-induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting that Fas-mediated SPE B-induced apoptosis also occurs RGD independently. Both anti-αvβ3 and anti-Fas antibodies synergistically inhibited SPE B-induced apoptosis. The apoptotic cascades were activated by SPE B and G308S, with a little delay by the latter. After SPE B binding, the cell surface level of αvβ3, but not of Fas, was decreased. The decreased αvβ3 level was restored by treatment with the proteasome inhibitor MG132, suggesting a SPE B-mediated endocytosis of integrin αvβ3 via the ubiquitin-proteasome system. Taken together, our results demonstrate that SPE B-induced apoptosis is mediated through αvβ3 integrin and Fas in a synergistic manner.
PMCID: PMC2292884  PMID: 18227168
5.  Streptococcal Pyrogenic Exotoxin B-Induced Apoptosis in A549 Cells Is Mediated by a Receptor- and Mitochondrion-Dependent Pathway  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(12):7055-7062.
It has been shown that streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin B (SPE B) can induce cells to undergo apoptosis. The present study is to dissect the role of SPE B protease and SPE B protein in the apoptotic process of A549 cells and to elucidate the SPE B-induced apoptotic pathway. Recombinant SPE B (rSPE B) and C192S, a mutant of SPE B without protease activity, were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified by using an affinity column. The apoptosis of A549 cells was assayed by propidium iodide staining, followed by flow cytometry analysis. Our results showed that SPE B induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner, whereas C192S did not. When cells were pretreated with rSPE B (2 μg/ml) for as briefly as 5 min and then incubated with C192S of 28 kDa, an apoptosis that is proportional to the period of pretreatment was observed but not with C192S of 42 kDa. These results suggest that the extracellular protease activity of rSPE B is required for the initiation of apoptosis and that the size of SPE B is important for an effective induction of apoptosis. The time course analysis revealed that molecules activated in apoptosis were in the following order: caspase-8 (1.5 h), t-Bid (2.5 h), Bax (3 h), cytochrome c release (6 h), caspase-9 (7 h), and caspase-3 (8 h). The overexpression of Bcl-2 inhibited depolarization of mitochondrial membrane, cytochrome c release, and apoptosis. The results of the present study suggest that SPE B-induced apoptosis is mediated through a receptor-like mechanism and a mitochondrion-dependent pathway.
PMCID: PMC529174  PMID: 15557629

Results 1-5 (5)