Human cytomegalovirus UL97 kinase is required for the normal intranuclear distribution of pp65 and virion morphogenesis

Academic Article


  • Recombinant human cytomegaloviruses that do not express UL97 kinase activity exhibit a distinctive plaque morphology characterized by the formation of highly refractile bodies late in infection. These structures were also observed in infected cells treated with the UL97 kinase inhibitor maribavir. Nuclear inclusions were purified to near homogeneity, and the constituent proteins were identified by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry. This analysis demonstrated that the aggregates were formed principally of the tegument proteins pp65 and ppUL25 but also contained additional virion structural proteins including the major capsid protein. Immunoblotting experiments confirmed these results and identified a number of additional viral proteins present in the purified tegument aggregates. Interestingly, the formation of these structures appeared to be dependent on pp65, since it was not induced in cells infected with a recombinant virus with this open reading frame deleted. Morphologically similar aggregates could be reproduced in nuclei of uninfected cells by overexpressing pp65, and their formation was prevented by coexpressing the UL97 kinase. Inhibition of UL97 kinase activity with maribavir or mutation of an essential amino acid in the kinase abolished its ability to prevent aggregate formation. These data taken together suggest that the UL97 kinase impacts the aggregation of pp65 in the nuclei of infected cells. We propose that the kinase plays an important role in the acquisition of tegument during virion morphogenesis in the nucleus and that this activity represents an important step in the production of mature virus particles. Copyright © 2005, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Prichard MN; Britt WJ; Daily SL; Hartline CB; Kern ER
  • Start Page

  • 15494
  • End Page

  • 15502
  • Volume

  • 79
  • Issue

  • 24