Journal of virology

Characterization of conserved region 2-deficient mutants of the cytomegalovirus egress protein pM53.

PMID 22993161


Dominant-negative (DN) mutants are powerful tools for studying essential protein-protein interactions. A systematic genetic screen of the essential murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) protein pM53 identified the accumulation of inhibitory mutations within conserved region 2 (CR2) and CR4. The strong inhibitory potential of these CR4 mutants is characterized by a particular phenotype. The DN effect of the small insertion mutations in CR2 was too weak to analyze (M. Popa, Z. Ruzsics, M. Lötzerich, L. Dölken, C. Buser, P. Walther, and U. H. Koszinowski, J. Virol. 84:9035-9046, 2010); therefore, the present study describes the construction of M53 alleles lacking CR2 (either completely or partially) and subsequent examination of the DN effect on MCMV replication upon conditional expression. Overexpression of CR2-deficient pM53 inhibited virus production by about 10,000-fold. This was due to interference with capsid export from the nucleus and viral genome cleavage/packaging. In addition, the fate of the nuclear envelopment complex in the presence of DN pM53 overexpression was analyzed. The CR2 mutants were able to bind to pM50, albeit to a lesser extent than the wild-type protein, and relocalized the wild-type nuclear envelope complex in infected cells. Unlike the CR4 DN, the CR2 DN mutants did not affect the stability of pM50.