Coupling of mitotic chromosome tethering and replication competence in epstein-barr virus-based plasmids

Mol Cell Biol. 2001 May;21(10):3576-88. doi: 10.1128/MCB.21.10.3576-3588.2001.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) replicates once per cell cycle and segregates with high efficiency yet does not encode the enzymes needed for DNA replication or the proteins required to contact mitotic spindles. The virus-encoded EBNA-1 (EBV nuclear antigen 1) and latent replication origin (oriP) are required for both replication and segregation. We developed a sensitive and specific fluorescent labeling strategy to analyze the interactions of both EBNA-1 with viral episomes and viral episomes with host chromosomes. This enabled investigation of the hypothesis that replication and chromosome tethering are linked through the EBNA-1 protein. We show that deleting EBNA-1 or oriP disrupts mitotic chromosome tethering but removing the dyad symmetry element of oriP does not. Microscopic and biochemical approaches demonstrated that an EBNA-1 mutant lacking residues 16 to 372 bound to oriP plasmids but did not support their mitotic chromosome association and that the mutant lost the ability of wild-type EBNA-1 to associate with interphase chromatin. Importantly, the transient-replication abilities of various mutant forms of EBV plasmids, including the mutant form with the EBNA-1 internal deletion, correlated directly with their chromosome-tethering abilities. These data lead us to propose that EBNA-1 recruits oriP-containing plasmids into chromatin subdomains in interphase nuclei to both engage the host replication machinery and enable the plasmids to adhere to host chromosomes to increase their segregation efficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens / genetics
  • HeLa Cells
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Plasmids
  • Virus Replication*


  • Epstein-Barr Virus Nuclear Antigens
  • EBV-encoded nuclear antigen 1