Brd4 links chromatin targeting to HPV transcriptional silencing.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Genes & development


Animals; Chromatin; Gene Expression Regulation, Viral; Gene Silencing; Gene Targeting; HeLa Cells; Human papillomavirus 11; Human papillomavirus 18; Humans; Mice; Nuclear Proteins; Oncogene Proteins, Fusion; Transcription Factors; Transcription, Genetic; Viral Proteins


The E2 protein encoded by human papillomaviruses (HPVs) inhibits expression of the viral E6 oncoprotein, which, in turn, regulates p53 target gene transcription. To identify cellular proteins involved in E2-mediated transcriptional repression, we isolated an E2 complex from human cells conditionally expressing HPV-11 E2. Surprisingly, the double bromodomain-containing protein Brd4, which is implicated in cell cycle control and viral genome segregation, was found associated with E2 and conferred on E2 the ability to inhibit AP-1-dependent HPV chromatin transcription in an E2-binding site-specific manner as illustrated by in vitro reconstituted chromatin transcription experiments. Knockdown of Brd4 in human cells alleviates E2-mediated repression of HPV transcription. The E2-interacting domain at the extreme C terminus and the chromatin targeting activity of a bromodomain-containing region are both essential for the corepressor activity of Brd4. Interestingly, E2-Brd4 blocks the recruitment of TFIID and RNA polymerase II to the HPV E6 promoter region without inhibiting acetylation of nucleosomal histones H3 and H4, indicating an acetylation-dependent role of Brd4 in the recruitment of E2 for transcriptional silencing of HPV gene activity. Our finding that Brd4 is a component of the virus-assembled transcriptional silencing complex uncovers a novel function of Brd4 as a cellular cofactor modulating viral gene expression.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)




Samuel Hou is affiliated with Providence St. Joseph Health.