The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) immediate-early protein BZLF1 (Z) is a key regulator of the EBV latent-to-lytic switch. Z is a transcriptional activator which induces EBV early gene expression. We demonstrate here that Z interacts with CREB-binding protein (CBP), a histone acetylase and transcriptional coactivator. This interaction requires the amino-terminal region of CBP as well as the transactivation and leucine zipper domains of Z. We show that CBP enhances Z-mediated transactivation of EBV early promoters, in reporter gene assays and in the context of the endogenous genome. We also demonstrate that Z decreases CREB transactivation function and that this inhibitory effect is reversed by overexpression of CBP. We show that Z also interacts directly with CREB. However, mutational analysis indicates that Z inhibition of CREB activity requires the direct interaction between Z and CBP but not the direct interaction between Z and CREB. We propose that Z interacts with CBP to enhance viral early gene transcription. In addition, the Z-CBP interaction may control host cellular transcription factor activity through competition for limiting amounts of cellular CBP
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