To further characterize the mechanism involved in poliovirus-induced inhibition of HeLa cells mRNA synthesis, in vitro formation of DNA-protein complexes between nuclear upstream stimulatory transcription factor (USF) and the adenovirus type 2 major late promoter upstream promoter element (UPE; located between -45 and -65 base pairs) was studied. Using the gel shift assay, we found differences between the UPE-protein complex formed with partially purified nuclear extracts from poliovirus-infected HeLa cells and that obtained in the presence of mock-infected extracts. Formation of the modified UPE-USF complex coincided with virus-induced inhibition of host cell RNA synthesis in vivo and with a less efficient in vitro transcriptional activity of the nuclear extracts from infected cells. Furthermore, using a cross-linking protocol, we found that the host 46-kilodalton UPE-binding USF factor was severely diminished and that a virus-induced or -modified 50-kilodalton polypeptide appeared to be specifically bound to the UPE template
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