Human cytomegalovirus UL97 kinase prevents the deposition of mutant protein aggregates in cellular models of Huntington's disease and Ataxia

Academic Article


  • The presence of aggregates of abnormally expanded polyglutamine (polyQ)-containing proteins are a pathological hallmark of a number of neurodegenerative diseases including Huntington's disease (HD) and spinocerebellar ataxia-3 (SCA3). Previous studies in cellular, Drosophila, and mouse models of HD and SCA have shown that neurodegeneration can be prevented by manipulations that inhibit polyQ aggregation. We have shown that the UL97 kinase of the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) prevents aggregation of the pp71 and pp65 viral tegument proteins. To explore whether UL97 may act as a general antiaggregation factor, we examined whether UL97 prevents aggregation of cellular non-polyQ and polyQ proteins. We report that UL97 prevents the deposition of aggregates of two non-polyQ proteins: a protein chimera (GFP170*) composed of the green fluorescent protein and a fragment of the Golgi Complex protein (GCP-170) and a chimera composed of the red fluorescent protein (RFP) fused to the Werner syndrome protein (WRN), a RecQ helicase and exonuclease involved in DNA repair. Furthermore, we show that UL97 inhibits aggregate deposition in cellular models of HD and SCA3. UL97 prevents the deposition of aggregates of the mutant huntingtin exon 1 containing 82 glutamine repeats (HttExon1-Q82) or full length ataxin-3 containing a 72 polyQ track (AT3-72Q). The kinase activity of UL97 appears critical, as the kinase-dead UL97 mutant (K335M) fails to prevent aggregate formation. We further show that UL97 disrupts nuclear PML bodies and decreases p53-mediated transcription. The universality of the antiaggregation effect of UL97 suggests that UL97 targets a key cellular factor that regulates cellular aggregation mechanisms. Our results identify UL97 as a novel means to modulate polyQ aggregation and suggest that UL97 can serve as a novel tool to probe the cellular mechanisms that contribute to the formation of aggregates in polyglutamine disorders. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
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    Author List

  • Tower C; Fu L; Gill R; Prichard M; Lesort M; Sztul E
  • Start Page

  • 11
  • End Page

  • 22
  • Volume

  • 41
  • Issue

  • 1