Xiangmin Zhang，Jiwei Li，Mengmeng Zhang，Bowen Bai，Weiwei Ma，Yuezhi Lin，Xing Guo，Xue-Feng Wang，Xiaojun Wang
J Virol.2022 Sep 7;e0098622.doi: 10.1128/jvi.00986-22.Online ahead of print.
All lentiviruses encode the accessory protein Rev, whose main biological function is to mediate the nuclear export of unspliced and incompletely spliced viral transcripts by binding to a viral cis-acting element (termed the Rev-responsive element, RRE) within the env-encoding region. Equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) is a member of the lentivirus genus in the Retroviridae family and is considered an important model for the study of lentivirus pathogenesis. Here, we identified a novel transcript from the EIAV genome that encoded a viral protein, named Mat, with an unknown function. The transcript mat was fully spliced and comprised parts of the coding regions of MA and TM. Interestingly, the expression of Mat depended on Rev and the chromosome region maintenance 1 (CRM1) pathway. Rev could specifically bind to Mat mRNA to promote its nuclear export. We further identified that the first exon of Mat mRNA, which was located within the Gag-encoding region, acted as an unreported RRE. Altogether, we identified a novel fully spliced transcript mat with an unusual RRE, which interacted with Rev for nuclear export through the CRM1 pathway. These findings updated the EIAV genome structure, highlighted the diversification of posttranscriptional regulation patterns in EIAV, and may help to expand the understanding of gene transcription and expression of lentivirus. IMPORTANCE In lentiviruses, the nuclear export of viral transcripts is an important step in controlling viral gene expression. Generally, the unspliced and incompletely spliced transcripts are exported via the CRM1-dependent export pathway in a process mediated by the viral Rev protein by binding to the Rev-responsive element (RRE) located within the Env-coding region. However, the completely spliced transcripts are exported via an endogenous cellular pathway, which was Rev independent. Here, we identified a novel fully spliced transcript from EIAV and demonstrated that it encoded a viral protein, termed Mat. Interestingly, we determined that the expression of Mat depended on Rev and identified that the first exon of Mat mRNA could specifically bind to Rev and be exported to the cytoplasm, which suggested that the first exon of Mat mRNA was a second RRE of EIAV. These findings provided important insights into the Rev-dependent nuclear export of completely spliced transcripts in lentiviruses.
Keywords: EIAV; HIV-1; Mat; RRE; Rev; lentiviruses; transcript; transcriptional regulation.