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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Mar 13;98(6):3237-42.

Murine cytomegalovirus M78 protein, a G protein-coupled receptor homologue, is a constituent of the virion and facilitates accumulation of immediate-early viral mRNA.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1014, USA.


The M78 protein of murine cytomegalovirus exhibits sequence features of a G protein-coupled receptor. It is synthesized with early kinetics, it becomes partially colocalized with Golgi markers, and it is incorporated into viral particles. We have constructed a viral substitution mutant, SMsubM78, which lacks most of the M78 ORF. The mutant produces a reduced yield in cultured 10.1 fibroblast and IC21 macrophage cell lines. The defect is multiplicity dependent and greater in the macrophage cell line. Consistent with its growth defect in cultured cells, the mutant exhibits reduced pathogenicity in mice, generating less infectious progeny than wild-type virus in all organs assayed. SMsubM78 fails to efficiently activate accumulation of the viral m123 immediate-early mRNA in infected macrophages. M78 facilitates the accumulation of the immediate-early mRNA in cycloheximide-treated cells, arguing that it acts in the absence of de novo protein synthesis. We conclude that the M78 G protein-coupled receptor homologue is delivered to cells as a constituent of the virion, and it acts to facilitate the accumulation of immediate-early mRNA.

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