Nucleolin associates with the human cytomegalovirus DNA polymerase accessory subunit UL44 and is necessary for efficient viral replication.

Abstract:

In the eukaryotic cell, DNA replication entails the interaction of multiple proteins with the DNA polymerase processivity factor PCNA. As the structure of the presumptive human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) DNA polymerase processivity factor UL44 is highly homologous to that of PCNA, we hypothesized that UL44 also interacts with numerous proteins. To investigate this possibility, recombinant HCMV expressing FLAG-tagged UL44 was generated and used to immunoprecipitate UL44 and associated proteins from infected cell lysates. Unexpectedly, nucleolin, a major protein component of the nucleolus, was identified among these proteins by mass spectrometry and Western blotting. The association of nucleolin and UL44 in infected cell lysate was confirmed by reciprocal coimmunoprecipitation in the presence and absence of nuclease. Western blotting and immunofluorescence assays demonstrated that the level of nucleolin increases during infection and that nucleolin becomes distributed throughout the nucleus. Furthermore, the colocalization of nucleolin and UL44 in infected cell nuclei was observed by immunofluorescence assays. Assays of HCMV-infected cells treated with small interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting nucleolin mRNA indicated that nucleolin was required for efficient virus production, viral DNA synthesis, and the expression of a late viral protein, with a correlation between the efficacy of knockdown and the effect on virus replication. In contrast, the level of neither global protein synthesis nor the replication of an unrelated virus (reovirus) was reduced in siRNA-treated cells. Taken together, our results indicate an association of nucleolin and UL44 in HCMV-infected cells and a role for nucleolin in viral DNA synthesis.

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