The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) BGLF4 gene product is the only protein kinase encoded by the virus genome. In order to elucidate its physiological roles in viral productive replication, we here established a BGLF4-knockout mutant and a revertant virus. While the levels of viral DNA replication of the deficient mutant were equivalent to those of the wild-type and the revertant, virus production was significantly impaired. Expression of the BGLF4 protein in trans fully complemented the low yield of the mutant virus, while expression of a kinase-dead (K102I) form of the protein failed to restore the virus titer. These results demonstrate that BGLF4 plays a significant role in production of infectious viruses and that the kinase activity is crucial.
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