Journal of virology

Analysis of the functional interchange between the IE1 and pp71 proteins of human cytomegalovirus and ICP0 of herpes simplex virus 1.

PMID 25552717


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) immediate early protein IE1 and the tegument protein pp71 are required for efficient infection. These proteins have some functional similarities with herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) immediate early protein ICP0, which stimulates lytic HSV-1 infection and derepresses quiescent HSV-1 genomes. All three proteins counteract antiviral restriction mediated by one or more components of promyelocytic leukemia (PML) nuclear bodies, and IE1 and pp71, acting together, almost completely complement ICP0 null mutant HSV-1. Here, we investigated whether ICP0 might substitute for IE1 or pp71 during HCMV infection. Using human fibroblasts that express ICP0, IE1, or pp71 in an inducible manner, we found that ICP0 stimulated replication of both wild-type (wt) and pp71 mutant HCMV while IE1 increased wt HCMV plaque formation and completely complemented the IE1 mutant. Although ICP0 stimulated IE2 expression from IE1 mutant HCMV and increased the number of IE2-positive cells, it could not compensate for IE1 in full lytic replication. These results are consistent with previous evidence that both IE1 and IE2 are required for efficient HCMV gene expression, but they also imply that IE2 functionality is influenced specifically by IE1, either directly or indirectly, and that IE1 may include sequences that have HCMV-specific functions. We discovered a mutant form of IE1 (YL2) that fails to stimulate HCMV infection while retaining 30 to 80% of the activity of the wt protein in complementing ICP0 null mutant HSV-1. It is intriguing that the YL2 mutation is situated in the region of IE1 that is shared with IE2 and which is highly conserved among primate cytomegaloviruses. Herpesvirus gene expression can be repressed by cellular restriction factors, one group of which is associated with structures known as ND10 or PML nuclear bodies (PML NBs). Regulatory proteins of several herpesviruses interfere with PML NB-mediated repression, and in some cases their activities are transferrable between different viruses. For example, the requirement for ICP0 during herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infection can be largely replaced by ICP0-related proteins expressed by other alphaherpesviruses and even by a combination of the unrelated IE1 and pp71 proteins of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Here, we report that ICP0 stimulates gene expression and replication of wt HCMV but cannot replace the need for IE1 during infection by IE1-defective HCMV mutants. Therefore, IE1 includes HCMV-specific functions that cannot be replaced by ICP0.