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J Virol. 2008 Dec;82(24):12116-25. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00153-08. Epub 2008 Sep 17.

Cyclin-dependent kinase 1/cyclin B1 phosphorylates varicella-zoster virus IE62 and is incorporated into virions.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, SUNY Upstate Medical University, 750 East Adams St., Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.


Varicella-zoster virus (VZV), an alphaherpesvirus restricted to humans, infects differentiated cells in vivo, including T lymphocytes, keratinocytes, and neurons, and spreads rapidly in confluent cultured dermal fibroblasts (HFFs). In VZV-infected HFFs, atypical expression of cyclins D3 and B1 occurs along with the induction of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity. A specific CDK1 inhibitor blocked VZV spread, indicating an important function for this cellular kinase in VZV replication. CDK activity assays of infected cells revealed a large viral phosphoprotein that was identified as being the major immediate-early transactivator, IE62. Since IE62 colocalized with CDK1/cyclin B1 by confocal microscopy, we investigated whether this cellular kinase complex interacts with IE62. Using recombinant fragments of IE62 spanning the entire amino acid sequence, we found that purified CDK1/cyclin B1 phosphorylated IE62 at residues T10, S245, and T680 in vitro. Immunoprecipitation of cyclin B1 from VZV-infected HFFs indicated that IE62 was included in the complex within infected cells. The full-length IE62 protein, obtained by immunoprecipitation from infected cells, was also phosphorylated by purified CDK1/cyclin B1. Based on IE62/CDK1/cyclin B1 colocalization near viral assembly regions, we hypothesized that these cellular proteins could be incorporated into VZV virions with IE62. Purified virions were analyzed by immunoblotting for the presence of CDK1 and cyclin B1, and active CDK1 and cyclin B1 were present in the VZV tegument with IE62 and were sensitive to detergent treatment. Thus, IE62 is a substrate for CDK1/cyclin B1, and virions could deliver the active cellular kinase to nondividing cells that normally do not express it.

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