Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) replication proteins are transported into the nucleus to synthesize viral genomes. We here report molecular mechanisms for nuclear transport of EBV DNA polymerase. The EBV DNA polymerase catalytic subunit BALF5 was found to accumulate in the cytoplasm when expressed alone, while the EBV DNA polymerase processivity factor BMRF1 moved into the nucleus by itself. Coexpression of both proteins, however, resulted in efficient nuclear transport of BALF5. Deletion of the nuclear localization signal of BMRF1 diminished the proteins' nuclear transport, although both proteins can still interact. These results suggest that BALF5 interacts with BMRF1 to effect transport into the nucleus. Interestingly, we found that Hsp90 inhibitors or knockdown of Hsp90β with short hairpin RNA prevented the BALF5 nuclear transport, even in the presence of BMRF1, both in transfection assays and in the context of lytic replication. Immunoprecipitation analyses suggested that the molecular chaperone Hsp90 interacts with BALF5. Treatment with Hsp90 inhibitors blocked viral DNA replication almost completely during lytic infection, and knockdown of Hsp90β reduced viral genome synthesis. Collectively, we speculate that Hsp90 interacts with BALF5 in the cytoplasm to assist complex formation with BMRF1, leading to nuclear transport. Hsp90 inhibitors may be useful for therapy for EBV-associated diseases in the future.
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