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J Virol. 2004 Sep;78(17):9084-92.

Specific residues in the connector loop of the human cytomegalovirus DNA polymerase accessory protein UL44 are crucial for interaction with the UL54 catalytic subunit.

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Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The human cytomegalovirus DNA polymerase includes an accessory protein, UL44, which has been proposed to act as a processivity factor for the catalytic subunit, UL54. How UL44 interacts with UL54 has not yet been elucidated. The crystal structure of UL44 revealed the presence of a connector loop analogous to that of the processivity subunit of herpes simplex virus DNA polymerase, UL42, which is crucial for interaction with its cognate catalytic subunit, UL30. To investigate the role of the UL44 connector loop, we replaced each of its amino acids (amino acids 129 to 140) with alanine. We then tested the effect of each substitution on the UL44-UL54 interaction by glutathione S-transferase pulldown and isothermal titration calorimetry assays, on the stimulation of UL54-mediated long-chain DNA synthesis by UL44, and on the binding of UL44 to DNA-cellulose columns. Substitutions that affected residues 133 to 136 of the connector loop measurably impaired the UL44-UL54 interaction without altering the ability of UL44 to bind DNA. One substitution, I135A, completely disrupted the binding of UL44 to UL54 and inhibited the ability of UL44 to stimulate long-chain DNA synthesis by UL54. Thus, similar to the herpes simplex virus UL30-UL42 interaction, a residue of the connector loop of the accessory subunit is crucial for UL54-UL44 interaction. However, while alteration of a polar residue of the UL42 connector loop only partially reduced binding to UL30, substitution of a hydrophobic residue of UL44 completely disrupted the UL54-UL44 interaction. This information may aid the discovery of small-molecule inhibitors of the UL44-UL54 interaction.

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