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J Virol. 2010 Mar;84(6):3079-93. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02236-09. Epub 2009 Dec 30.

Proteasome subunits relocalize during human cytomegalovirus infection, and proteasome activity is necessary for efficient viral gene transcription.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0712, USA.


We have continued studies to further understand the role of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) in human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection. With specific inhibitors of the proteasome, we show that ongoing proteasome activity is necessary for facilitating the various stages of the infection. Immediate-early protein 2 expression is modestly reduced with addition of proteasome inhibitors at the onset of infection; however, both early and late gene expression are significantly delayed, even if the inhibitor is removed at 12 h postinfection. Adding the inhibitor at later times during the infection blocks the further accumulation of viral early and late gene products, the severity of which is dependent on when the proteasome is inhibited. This can be attributed primarily to a block in viral RNA transcription, although DNA synthesis is also partially inhibited. Proteasome activity and expression increase as the infection progresses, and this coincides with the relocalization of active proteasomes to the periphery of the viral DNA replication center, where there is active RNA transcription. Interestingly, one 19S subunit, Rpn2, is specifically recruited into the viral DNA replication center. The relocalization of the subunits requires viral DNA replication, but their maintenance around or within the replication center is not dependent on continued viral DNA synthesis or the proteolytic activity of the proteasome. These studies highlight the importance of the UPS at all stages of the HCMV infection and support further studies into this pathway as a potential antiviral target.

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