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Cytomegalovirus Late Protein pUL31 Alters Pre-rRNA Expression and Nuclear Organization during Infection. J Virol 2017 09 15;91(18)



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2-s2.0-85028302530   9 Citations


The replication cycle of human cytomegalovirus (CMV) leads to drastic reorganization of domains in the host cell nucleus. However, the mechanisms involved and how these domains contribute to infection are not well understood. Our recent studies defining the CMV-induced nuclear proteome identified several viral proteins of unknown functions, including a protein encoded by the UL31 gene. We set out to define the role of UL31 in CMV replication. UL31 is predicted to encode a 74-kDa protein, referred to as pUL31, containing a bipartite nuclear localization signal, an intrinsically disordered region overlapping arginine-rich motifs, and a C-terminal dUTPase-like structure. We observed that pUL31 is expressed with true late kinetics and is localized to nucleolin-containing nuclear domains. However, pUL31 is excluded from the viral nuclear replication center. Nucleolin is a marker of nucleoli, which are membrane-less regions involved in regulating ribosome biosynthesis and cellular stress responses. Other CMV proteins associate with nucleoli, and we demonstrate that pUL31 specifically interacts with the viral protein, pUL76. Coexpression of both proteins altered pUL31 localization and nucleolar organization. During infection, pUL31 colocalizes with nucleolin but not the transcriptional activator, UBF. In the absence of pUL31, CMV fails to reorganize nucleolin and UBF and exhibits a replication defect at a low multiplicity of infection. Finally, we observed that pUL31 is necessary and sufficient to reduce pre-rRNA levels, and this was dependent on the dUTPase-like motif in pUL31. Our studies demonstrate that CMV pUL31 functions in regulating nucleolar biology and contributes to the reorganization of nucleoli during infection.IMPORTANCE Nucleolar biology is important during CMV infection with the nucleolar protein, with nucleolin playing a role in maintaining the architecture of the viral nuclear replication center. However, the extent of CMV-mediated regulation of nucleolar biology is not well established. Proteins within nucleoli regulate ribosome biosynthesis and p53-dependent cellular stress responses that are capable of inducing cell cycle arrest and/or apoptosis, and they are proposed targets for cancer therapies. This study establishes that CMV protein pUL31 is necessary and sufficient to regulate nucleolar biology involving the reorganization of nucleolar proteins. Understanding these processes will help define approaches to stimulate cellular intrinsic stress responses that are capable of inhibiting CMV infection.

Author List

Westdorp KN, Sand A, Moorman NJ, Terhune SS


Scott Terhune PhD Professor in the Microbiology and Immunology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Cell Line
Cell Nucleolus
Cell Nucleus
Cytomegalovirus Infections
Gene Expression Profiling
Protein Interaction Mapping
RNA Precursors
Viral Proteins
Virus Diseases
Virus Replication