Rep*: a viral element that can partially replace the origin of plasmid DNA synthesis of Epstein-Barr virus.J Virol. 1998 Jun; 72(6):4657-66.JV
Replication of the Epstein-Barr viral (EBV) genome occurs once per cell cycle during latent infection. Similarly, plasmids containing EBV's plasmid origin of replication, oriP, are replicated once per cell cycle. Replication from oriP requires EBV nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) in trans; however, its contributions to this replication are unknown. oriP contains 24 EBNA-1 binding sites; 20 are located within the family of repeats, and 4 are found within the dyad symmetry element. The site of initiation of DNA replication within oriP is at or near the dyad symmetry element. We have identified a plasmid that contains the family of repeats but lacks the dyad symmetry element whose replication can be detected for a limited number of cell cycles. The detection of short-term replication of this plasmid requires EBNA-1 and can be inhibited by a dominant-negative inhibitor of EBNA-1. We have identified two regions within this plasmid which can independently contribute to this replication in the absence of the dyad symmetry element of oriP. One region contains native EBV sequences within the BamHI C fragment of the B95-8 genome of EBV; the other contains sequences within the simian virus 40 genome. We have mapped the region contributing to replication within the EBV sequences to a 298-bp fragment, Rep*. Plasmids which contain three copies of Rep* plus the family of repeats support replication more efficiently than those with one copy, consistent with a stochastic model for the initiation of DNA synthesis. Plasmids with three copies of Rep* also support long-term replication in the presence of EBNA-1. These observations together indicate that the latent origin of replication of EBV is more complex than formerly appreciated; it is a multicomponent origin of which the dyad symmetry element is one efficient component. The experimental approach described here could be used to identify eukaryotic sequences which mediate DNA synthesis, albeit inefficiently.