RTA, the viral Replication and Transcription Activator, is essential for rhadinovirus lytic gene expression upon de novo infection and reactivation from latency. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/toll-like receptor (TLR)4 engagement enhances rhadinovirus reactivation. We developed two new systems to examine the interaction of RTA with host NF-kappaB (NF-κB) signaling during murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) infection: a latent B cell line (HE-RIT) inducible for RTA-Flag expression and virus reactivation; and a recombinant virus (MHV68-RTA-Bio) that enabled in vivo biotinylation of RTA in BirA transgenic mice. LPS acted as a second stimulus to drive virus reactivation from latency in the context of induced expression of RTA-Flag. ORF6, the gene encoding the single-stranded DNA binding protein, was one of many viral genes that were directly responsive to RTA induction; expression was further increased upon treatment with LPS. However, NF-κB sites in the promoter of ORF6 did not influence RTA transactivation in response to LPS in HE-RIT cells. We found no evidence for RTA occupancy of the minimal RTA-responsive region of the ORF6 promoter, yet RTA was found to complex with a portion of the right origin of lytic replication (oriLyt-R) that contains predicted RTA recognition elements. RTA occupancy of select regions of the MHV-68 genome was also evaluated in our novel in vivo RTA biotinylation system. Streptavidin isolation of RTA-Bio confirmed complex formation with oriLyt-R in LPS-treated primary splenocytes from BirA mice infected with MHV68 RTA-Bio. We demonstrate the utility of reactivation-inducible B cells coupled with in vivo RTA biotinylation for mechanistic investigations of the interplay of host signaling with RTA.
Keywords: NF-kappaB; gammaherpesvirus; latency; reactivation.