The novel nuclear targeting and BFRF1-interacting domains of BFLF2 are essential for efficient epstein-barr virus virion release

Yu Ching Dai, Yen Tzu Liao, Yi Ting Juan, Yi Ying Cheng, Mei Tzu Su, Yu Zhen Su, Hung Chun Liu, Ching Hwa Tsai, Chung Pei Lee, Mei Ru Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genomic DNA is replicated and packaged into procapsids in the nucleus to form nucleocapsids, which are then transported into the cytoplasm for tegumentation and final maturation. The process is facilitated by the coordination of the viral nuclear egress complex (NEC), which consists of BFLF2 and BFRF1. By expression alone, BFLF2 is distributed mainly in the nucleus. However, it colocalizes with BFRF1 at the nuclear rim and in cytoplasmic nuclear envelopederived vesicles in coexpressing cells, suggesting temporal control of the interaction between BFLF2 and BFRF1 is critical for their proper function. The N-terminal sequence of BFLF2 is less conserved than that of alpha- and betaherpesvirus homologs. Here, we found that BFLF2 amino acids (aa) 2 to 102 are required for both nuclear targeting and its interaction with BFRF1. Coimmunoprecipitation and confocal analysis indicated that aa 82 to 106 of BFLF2 are important for its interaction with BFRF1. Three crucial amino acids (R47, K50, and R52) and several noncontinuous arginine and histidine residues within aa 59 to 80 function together as a noncanonical nuclear localization signal (NLS), which can be transferred onto yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)-LacZ for nuclear targeting in an importin β-dependent manner. Virion secretion is defective in 293 cells harboring a BFLF2 knockout EBV bacmid upon lytic induction and is restored by trans-complementation of wild-type BFLF2, but not NLS or BFRF1-interacting defective mutants. In addition, multiple domains of BFRF1 were found to bind BFLF2, suggesting multiple contact regions within BFRF1 and BFLF2 are required for proper nuclear egress of EBV nucleocapsids. IMPORTANCE Although Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) BFRF1 and BFLF2 are homologs of conserved viral nuclear egress complex (NEC) in all human herpesviruses, unique amino acid sequences and functions were identified in both proteins. In this study, the nuclear targeting and BFRF1-interacting domains were found within the N terminus of BFLF2. We showed that amino acids (aa) 82 to 106 are the major region required for BFLF2 to interact with BFRF1. However, the coimmunoprecipitation (Co-IP) data and glutathione transferase (GST) pulldown experiments revealed that multiple regions of both proteins contribute to reciprocal interactions. Different from the canonical nuclear localization signal (NLS) in other herpes viral homologs, BFLF2 contains a novel importin-dependent nuclear localization signal, including R47, K50, and R52 and several neighboring discontinuous arginine and histidine residues. Using a bacmid complementation system, we show that both the nuclear targeting and the novel nuclear localization signal within aa 82 to 106 of BFLF2 are required for virion secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01498-19
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 1
Externally publishedYes


  • BFLF2
  • BFRF1
  • EBV
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Herpesviruses
  • Importin beta
  • NLS
  • Nuclear egress
  • Nuclear egress complex
  • Nuclear localization signal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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