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BRD4 is associated with raccoon polyomavirus genome and mediates viral gene transcription and maintenance of a stem cell state in neuroglial tumour cells.


Polyomavirus infection often results in persistence of the viral genome with little or no virion production. However, infection of certain cell types can result in high viral gene transcription and either cytolysis or neoplastic transformation. While infection by polyomavirus is common in humans and many animals, major questions regarding viral persistence of most polyomaviruses remain unanswered. Specifically, identification of target cells for viral infection and the mechanisms polyomaviruses employ to maintain viral genomes within cells are important not only in ascribing causality to polyomaviruses in disease, but in understanding specific mechanisms by which they cause disease. Here, we characterize the cell of origin in raccoon polyomavirus (RacPyV)-associated neuroglial brain tumours as a neural stem cell. Moreover, we identify an association between the viral genome and the host cell bromodomain protein, BRD4, which is involved in numerous cellular functions, including cell cycle progression, differentiation of stem cells, tethering of persistent DNA viruses, and regulation of viral and host-cell gene transcription. We demonstrate that inhibition of BRD4 by the small molecule inhibitors (+)-JQ1 and IBET-151 (GSK1210151A) results in reduced RacPyV genome within cells in vitro, as well as significant reduction of viral gene transcripts LT and VP1, highlighting its importance in both maintenance of the viral genome and in driving oncogenic transformation by RacPyV. This work implicates BRD4 as a central protein involved in RacPyV neuroglial tumour cell proliferation and in the maintenance of a stem cell state.

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