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J Virol. 1999 Sep;73(9):7126-31.

Human cytomegalovirus UL36 protein is dispensable for viral replication in cultured cells.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-1014, USA.


Consistent with earlier analyses of human cytomegalovirus UL36 mRNA, we find that the UL36 protein is present throughout infection. In fact, it is delivered to the infected cell as a constituent of the virion. Curiously, much less UL36 protein accumulated in cells infected with the AD169 strain of human cytomegalovirus than in cells infected with the Towne or Toledo strain, and localization of the protein in cells infected with AD169 is strikingly different from that in cell infected with the Towne or Toledo strain. The variation in steady-state level of the proteins results from different stabilities of the proteins. The UL36 proteins from the three viral strains differ by several amino acid substitutions. However, this variability is not responsible for the different half-lives because the AD169 and Towne proteins, which exhibit very different half-lives within infected cells, exhibit the same half-life when introduced into uninfected cells by transfection with expression plasmids. We demonstrate that the UL36 protein is nonessential for growth in cultured cells, and we propose that the ability of the virus to replicate in the absence of UL36 function likely explains the striking strain-specific variation in the half-life and intracellular localization of the protein.

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