Journal of virology

Studies on the Contribution of Human Cytomegalovirus UL21a and UL97 to Viral Growth and Inactivation of the Anaphase-Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C) E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Reveal a Unique Cellular Mechanism for Downmodulation of the APC/C Subunits APC1, APC4, and APC5.

PMID 25903336


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) deregulates the cell cycle by several means, including inactivation of the anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) E3 ubiquitin ligase. Viral proteins UL97 and UL21a, respectively, affect the APC/C by phosphorylation of APC/C coactivator Cdh1 and by inducing the degradation of subunits APC4 and APC5, which along with APC1 form the APC/C platform subcomplex. The aim of this study was to further characterize the mechanism of APC/C inactivation and define the relative contributions of UL21a and UL97 to APC/C substrate accumulation and to viral growth. We show that in uninfected cells, UL21a but not UL97 can disrupt APC/C function, leading to the accumulation of substrates. We find that UL21a is necessary and sufficient to induce the degradation of APC1, in addition to the previously reported APC4 and APC5. We also demonstrate that there is a previously unreported cellular mechanism for a specific decrease in the levels of all three platform subunits, APC1, APC4, and APC5, upon the depletion of any one of these subunits or of subunit APC8. Finally, we show that at a low multiplicity of infection, either UL97 or UL21a can partially complement a growth-defective mutant virus lacking both UL21a and UL97, with significantly greater benefit afforded by the expression of both proteins. This double mutant also can be partially rescued by inactivation of the APC/C using small interfering RNAs against specific subunits. These results further our understanding of HCMV's interaction with the cell cycle machinery and reveal a new cellular pattern of APC/C subunit downmodulation. HCMV lytic infection subverts the host cell cycle machinery in multiple ways. A major effect is inactivation of the APC/C, which plays a central role in the control of cell cycle progression. This study provides further insight into the mechanism of inactivation. We discovered that the APC1 subunit, which along with APC4 and APC5 form the platform subcomplex of the APC/C, is an additional target of the degradation induced by HCMV protein UL21a. This study also shows for the first time that there is a unique cellular process in uninfected cells whereby depletion of APC1, APC4, APC5, or APC8 recapitulates the pattern of HCMV-mediated APC/C subunit degradation.