We report that UL133-UL138 (UL133/8), a transcriptional unit within the ULb' region (ULb') of the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) genome, and UL97, a viral protein kinase encoded by HCMV, play epistatic roles in facilitating progression of the viral lytic cycle. In studies with HCMV strain TB40/E, pharmacological blockade or genetic ablation of UL97 significantly reduced the levels of mRNA and protein for IE2 and viral early and early-late genes during a second wave of viral gene expression that commenced at between 24 and 48 h postinfection. These effects were accompanied by significant defects in viral DNA synthesis and viral replication. Interestingly, deletion of UL133/8 likewise caused significant defects in viral DNA synthesis, viral gene expression, and viral replication, which were not exacerbated upon UL97 inhibition. When UL133/8 was restored to HCMV laboratory strain AD169, which otherwise lacks the locus, the resulting recombinant virus replicated similarly to the parental virus. However, during UL97 inhibitor treatment, the virus in which UL133/8 was restored showed significantly exacerbated defects in viral DNA synthesis, viral gene expression, and production of infectious progeny virus, thus recapitulating the differences between wild-type TB40/E and its UL133/8-null derivative. Phenotypic evaluation of mutants null for specific open reading frames within UL133/8 revealed a role for UL135 in promoting viral gene expression, viral DNA synthesis, and viral replication, which depended on UL97. Taken together, our findings suggest that UL97 and UL135 play interdependent roles in promoting the progression of a second phase of the viral lytic cycle and that these roles are crucial for efficient viral replication.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science