Journal of virology

Recovery of an HMWP/hmwBP (pUL48/pUL47) complex from virions of human cytomegalovirus: subunit interactions, oligomer composition, and deubiquitylase activity.

PMID 24829352


We report that the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) high-molecular-weight tegument protein (HMWP, pUL48; 253 kDa) and the HMWP-binding protein (hmwBP, pUL47; 110 kDa) can be recovered as a complex from virions disrupted by treatment with 50 mM Tris (pH 7.5), 0.5 M NaCl, 0.5% NP-40, and 10 mM dithiothreitol [DTT]. The subunit ratio of the complex approximates 1:1, with a shape and structure consistent with an elongated heterodimer. The HMWP/hmwBP complex was corroborated by reciprocal coimmunoprecipitation experiments using antipeptide antibodies and lysates from both infected cells and disrupted virus particles. An interaction of the amino end of pUL48 (amino acids [aa] 322 to 754) with the carboxyl end of pUL47 (aa 693 to 982) was identified by fragment coimmunoprecipitation experiments, and a head-to-tail self-interaction of hmwBP was also observed. The deubiquitylating activity of pUL48 is retained in the isolated complex, which cleaves K11, K48, and K63 ubiquitin isopeptide linkages. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV, or human herpesvirus 5 [HHV-5]) is a large DNA-containing virus that belongs to the betaherpesvirus subfamily and is a clinically important pathogen. Defining the constituent elements of its mature form, their organization within the particle, and the assembly process by which it is produced are fundamental to understanding the mechanisms of herpesvirus infection and developing drugs and vaccines against them. In this study, we report isolating a complex of two large proteins encoded by HCMV open reading frames (ORFs) UL47 and UL48 and identifying the binding domains responsible for their interaction with each other and of pUL47 with itself. Our calculations indicate that the complex is a rod-shaped heterodimer. Additionally, we determined that the ubiquitin-specific protease activity of the ORF UL48 protein was functional in the complex, cleaving K11-, K48-, and K63-linked ubiquitin dimers. This information builds on and extends our understanding of the HCMV tegument protein network that is required to interface the HCMV envelope and capsid.