Characterization of the sequences of the human cytomegalovirus enhancer that mediate differential regulation by natural and synthetic retinoids

A Angulo, C Suto, R A Heyman, P Ghazal

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Evidence exists to suggest that human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) may opportunistically use retinoic acid (RA) to advance its own replication, in which transcriptional activation of the viral major immediate-early promoter is a crucial control point. We demonstrate that the enhancer of the viral promoter contains three RA-response-elements that cooperate in mediating RA activation. These elements are direct repeats of two sequence motifs separated by 2 bp (DR2 site, REa) and 5 bp (DR5 sites, REb and c). DNA-binding experiments revealed that each of these elements bind RA receptor (RAR)-retinoid X receptor (RXR) heterodimers more efficiently than either homodimer. Apparent equilibrium dissociation constants of RAR-RXR heterodimers for sites REa, REb, and REc were estimated to be 5 nm, 10 nm, and 20 nm, respectively. The level of contribution of each of these elements to RA inducibility correlated with the strength of binding by RAR-RXR heterodimers to each site. These experiments demonstrate that RAR and RXR are necessary for RA responsiveness of the viral promoter. Using synthetic RA analogs, which selectively activate RARs and RXRs, the RAR partner within the heterodimeric complex appeared to be sufficient while the RXR partner was insufficient to independently activate transcription. However, joint activation of RARs and RXRs indicated that RXRs (in the presence of a transcriptionally active RAR) could contribute to transactivation. This restricted co-dependent ligand activation of RXR varied depending on the particular response element and the cell context. These studies further indicate that signaling of retinoid receptors (in particular RAR) by RA plays an important role in modulating hCMV infection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-93
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Endocrinology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Carcinoma
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Protein Conformation
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Retinoid X Receptors
  • Retinoids
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tretinoin
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


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