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J Virol. 2009 Jun;83(11):5309-20. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00238-09. Epub 2009 Mar 25.

Arginine methylation of the ICP27 RGG box regulates ICP27 export and is required for efficient herpes simplex virus 1 replication.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4025, USA.


The herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) multifunctional regulatory protein ICP27 shuttles between the nucleus and cytoplasm in its role as a viral mRNA export factor. Arginine methylation on glycine- and arginine-rich motifs has been shown to regulate protein export. ICP27 contains an RGG box and has been shown to be methylated during viral infection. We found by mass spectrometric analysis that three arginine residues within the RGG box were methylated. Viral mutants with substitutions of lysine for arginine residues were created as single, double, and triple mutants. Growth of these mutants was impaired and the viral replication cycle was delayed compared to wild-type HSV-1. Most striking was the finding that under conditions of hypomethylation resulting from infection with arginine substitution mutants or treatment of wild-type HSV-1-infected cells with the methylation inhibitor adenosine dialdehyde, ICP27 export to the cytoplasm occurred earlier and was more rapid than wild-type ICP27 export. We conclude that arginine methylation of the ICP27 RGG box regulates its export activity and that early export of ICP27 interferes with the performance of its nuclear functions.

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