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J Virol. 2010 Jul;84(14):7039-52. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01644-09. Epub 2010 May 5.

Optimal replication of human cytomegalovirus correlates with endocytosis of glycoprotein gpUL132.

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Institut für Klinische und Molekulare Virologie, Schlossgarten 4, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.


Envelopment of a herpesvirus particle is a complex process of which much is still to be learned. We previously identified the glycoprotein gpUL132 of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) as an envelope component of the virion. In its carboxy-terminal portion, gpUL132 contains at least four motifs for sorting of transmembrane proteins to endosomes; among them are one dileucine-based signal and three tyrosine-based signals of the YXXØ and NPXY (where X stands for any amino acid, and Ø stands for any bulky hydrophobic amino acid) types. To investigate the role of each of these trafficking signals in intracellular localization and viral replication, we constructed a panel of expression plasmids and recombinant viruses in which the signals were rendered nonfunctional by mutagenesis. In transfected cells wild-type gpUL132 was mainly associated with the trans-Golgi network. Consecutive mutation of the trafficking signals resulted in increasing fractions of the protein localized at the cell surface, with gpUL132 mutated in all four trafficking motifs predominantly associated with the plasma membrane. Concomitant with increased surface expression, endocytosis of mutant gpUL132 was reduced, with a gpUL132 expressing all four motifs in mutated form being almost completely impaired in endocytosis. The replication of recombinant viruses harboring mutations in single trafficking motifs was comparable to replication of wild-type virus. In contrast, viruses containing mutations in three or four of the trafficking signals showed pronounced deficits in replication with a reduction of approximately 100-fold. Moreover, recombinant viruses expressing gpUL132 with three or four trafficking motifs mutated failed to incorporate the mutant protein into the virus particle. These results demonstrate a role of endocytosis of an HCMV envelope glycoprotein for incorporation into the virion and optimal virus replication.

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