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J Virol. 2014 Oct;88(20):11782-90. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01720-14. Epub 2014 Jul 30.

The 19S proteasome activator promotes human cytomegalovirus immediate early gene expression through proteolytic and nonproteolytic mechanisms.

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Institute for Molecular Virology and McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Institute for Molecular Virology and McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA


Proteasomes are large, multisubunit complexes that support normal cellular activities by executing the bulk of protein turnover. During infection, many viruses have been shown to promote viral replication by using proteasomes to degrade cellular factors that restrict viral replication. For example, the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) pp71 protein induces the proteasomal degradation of Daxx, a cellular transcriptional repressor that can silence viral immediate early (IE) gene expression. We previously showed that this degradation requires both the proteasome catalytic 20S core particle (CP) and the 19S regulatory particle (RP). The 19S RP associates with the 20S CP to facilitate protein degradation but also plays a 20S CP-independent role promoting transcription. Here, we present a nonproteolytic role of the 19S RP in HCMV IE gene expression. We demonstrate that 19S RP subunits are recruited to the major immediate early promoter (MIEP) that directs IE transcription. Depletion of 19S RP subunits generated a defect in RNA polymerase II elongation through the MIE locus during HCMV infection. Our results reveal that HCMV commandeers proteasome components for both proteolytic and nonproteolytic roles to promote HCMV lytic infection.


Proteasome inhibitors decrease or eliminate 20S CP activity and are garnering increasing interest as chemotherapeutics. However, an increasing body of evidence implicates 19S RP subunits in important proteolytic-independent roles during transcription. Thus, pharmacological inhibition of the 20S CP as a means to modulate proteasome function toward therapeutic effect is an incomplete capitalization on the potential of this approach. Here, we provide an additional example of nonproteolytic 19S RP function in promoting HCMV transcription. These data provide a novel system with which to study the roles of different proteasome components during transcription, a rationale for previously described shifts in 19S RP subunit localization during HCMV infection, and a potential therapeutic intervention point at a pre-immediate early stage for the inhibition of HCMV infection.

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