Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) infection goes through latent and lytic phases, which are controlled by the viral replication and transcription activator (RTA). Upon KSHV infection, the host responds by suppressing RTA-activated lytic gene expression through interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF-7), a key regulator of host innate immune response. Lysine residues are potential sites for post-translational modification of IRF-7, and were suggested to be critical for its activity. In this study, we analysed the 15 lysine residues for their effects on IRF-7 function by site-directed mutagenesis. We found that some mutations affect the ability of IRF-7 to activate interferon (IFN)-α1 and IFN-β promoters, to suppress RTA-mediated lytic gene expression and to repress KSHV reactivation and lytic replication. However, other mutations affect only a subset of these four functions. These findings demonstrate that the lysine residues of IRF-7 play important roles in mediating IFN synthesis and modulating viral lytic replication.
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