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EMBO J. 2009 May 6;28(9):1283-95. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2009.74. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

Termination of NF-kappaB activity through a gammaherpesvirus protein that assembles an EC5S ubiquitin-ligase.

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Instituto de Microbiologia e Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal.


Host colonisation by lymphotropic gammaherpesviruses depends critically on the expansion of viral genomes in germinal centre (GC) B cells. Yet, host and virus molecular mechanisms involved in driving such proliferation remain largely unknown. Here, we show that the ORF73 protein encoded by the murid herpesvirus-4 (MuHV-4) inhibits host nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) transcriptional activity through poly-ubiquitination and subsequent proteasomal-dependent nuclear degradation of the NF-kappaB family member p65/RelA. The mechanism involves the assembly of an ElonginC/Cullin5/SOCS (suppressors of cytokine signalling)-like complex, mediated by an unconventional viral SOCS-box motif present in ORF73. Functional deletion of this SOCS-box motif ablated NF-kappaB inhibitory effect of ORF73, suppressed MuHV-4 expansion in GC B cells and prevented MuHV-4 persistent infection in mice. These findings demonstrate that viral inhibition of NF-kappaB activity in latently infected GC centroblasts is critical for the establishment of a gammaherpesvirus persistent infection, underscoring the physiological importance of proteasomal degradation of RelA/NF-kappaB as a regulatory mechanism of this signalling pathway.

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