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J Virol. 2009 Dec;83(23):12452-61. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01364-09. Epub 2009 Sep 23.

Herpes simplex virus requires VP11/12 to induce phosphorylation of the activation loop tyrosine (Y394) of the Src family kinase Lck in T lymphocytes.

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Department of Medical Microbiology & Immunology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) tegument proteins are released into the cytoplasm during viral entry and hence are among the first viral proteins encountered by an infected cell. Despite the implied importance of these proteins in the evasion of host defenses, the function of some, like virion protein 11/12 (VP11/12), have not been clearly defined. Previously, we reported that VP11/12 is strongly tyrosine phosphorylated during the infection of lymphocytes but not in fibroblasts or an epithelial cell line (G. Zahariadis, M. J. Wagner, R. C. Doepker, J. M. Maciejko, C. M. Crider, K. R. Jerome, and J. R. Smiley, J. Virol. 82:6098-6108, 2008). We also showed that tyrosine phosphorylation depends in part on the activity of the lymphocyte-specific Src family kinase (SFK) Lck in Jurkat T cells. These data suggested that VP11/12 is a substrate of Lck and that Lck is activated during HSV infection. Here, we show that HSV infection markedly increases the fraction of Lck phosphorylated on its activation loop tyrosine (Y394), a feature characteristic of activated Lck. A previous report implicated the immediate-early protein ICP0 and the viral serine/threonine kinases US3 and UL13 in the induction of a similar activated phenotype of SFKs other than Lck in fibroblasts and suggested that ICP0 interacts directly with SFKs through their SH3 domain. However, we were unable to detect an interaction between ICP0 and Lck in T lymphocytes, and we show that ICP0, US3, and UL13 are not strictly required for Lck activation. In contrast, VP11/12 interacted with Lck or Lck signaling complexes and was strictly required for Lck activation during HSV infection. Thus, VP11/12 likely modulates host cell signaling pathways for the benefit of the virus.

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