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Identification of human cytomegalovirus genes important for biogenesis of the cytoplasmic virion assembly complex.

Journal of virology (2014-06-06)
Subhendu Das, Daniel A Ortiz, Stephen J Gurczynski, Fatin Khan, Philip E Pellett
ABSTRACT

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has many effects on cells, including remodeling the cytoplasm to form the cytoplasmic virion assembly complex (cVAC), the site of final virion assembly. Viral tegument, envelope, and some nonstructural proteins localize to the cVAC, and cytoskeletal filaments radiate from a microtubule organizing center in the cVAC. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-to-Golgi intermediate compartment, Golgi apparatus, and trans-Golgi network form a ring that outlines the cVAC. The center of the cVAC ring is occupied by numerous vesicles that share properties with recycling endosomes. In prior studies, we described the three-dimensional structure and the extensive remodeling of the cytoplasm and shifts in organelle identity that occur during development of the cVAC. The objective of this work was to identify HCMV proteins that regulate cVAC biogenesis. Because the cVAC does not form in the absence of viral DNA synthesis, we employed HCMV-infected cells transfected with synthetic small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that targeted 26 candidate early-late and late protein-coding genes required for efficient virus replication. We identified three HCMV genes (UL48, UL94, and UL103) whose silencing had major effects on cVAC development, including failure to form the Golgi ring and dispersal of markers of early and recycling endosomes. To confirm and extend the siRNA results, we constructed recombinant viruses in which pUL48 and pUL103 are fused with a regulatable protein destabilization domain (dd-FKBP). In the presence of a stabilizing ligand (Shield-1), the cVAC appeared to develop normally. In its absence, cVAC development was abrogated, verifying roles for pUL48 and pUL103 in cVAC biogenesis. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is an important human pathogen that causes disease and disability in immunocompromised individuals and in children infected before birth. Few drugs are available for treatment of HCMV infections. HCMV remodels the interior of infected cells to build a factory for assembling new infectious particles (virions), the cytoplasmic virion assembly complex (cVAC). Here, we identified three HCMV genes (UL48, UL94, and UL103) as important contributors to cVAC development. In addition, we found that mutant viruses that express an unstable form of the UL103 protein have defects in cVAC development and production of infectious virions and produce small plaques and intracellular virions with aberrant appearances. Of these, only the reduced production of infectious virions is not eliminated by chemically stabilizing the protein. In addition to identifying new functions for these HCMV genes, this work is a necessary prelude to developing novel antivirals that would block cVAC development.

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