The full-length genome of human cytomegalovirus strain AD169 was cloned as an infectious bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) plasmid, pAD/Cre. The BAC vector, flanked by LoxP sites, was inserted immediately after the Us28 open reading frame without deletion of any viral sequences. The BAC vector contained the Cre recombinase-encoding gene disrupted by an intron under control of the simian virus 40 early promoter. When pAD/Cre was transfected into primary human foreskin fibroblast cells, Cre was expressed and mediated site-specific recombination between the two LoxP sites, excising the BAC DNA backbone. This gave rise to progeny virus that was wild type with the exception of an inserted 34-bp LoxP site. We performed site-directed mutagenesis on pAD/Cre to generate a series of viruses in which the TRL/IRL13 diploid genes were disrupted and subsequently repaired. The mutants reach the same titer as the wild-type virus, indicating that the TRL/IRL13 open reading frames are not required for virus growth in cell culture. The sequence of the TRL13 open reading frame in the low-passage Toledo strain of human cytomegalovirus is quite different from the corresponding region in the AD169 strain. One of multiple changes is a frameshift mutation. As a consequence, strain Toledo encodes a putative TRL13 protein whose C-terminal domain is larger (extending through the TRL14 coding region) and encodes in a reading frame different from that of strain AD169. We speculate that the strain AD169 coding region has drifted during passage in the laboratory. We propose that TRL13 has been truncated in strain AD169 and that the partially overlapping TRL14 open reading frame is not functional. This view is consistent with the presence of both TRL13 and -14 on all mRNAs that we have mapped from this region, an organization that would include the much longer strain Toledo TRL13 open reading frame on the mRNAs.
The human cytomegalovirus UL47 open reading frame encodes a 110-kDa protein that is a component of the virion tegument. We have constructed a cytomegalovirus mutant, ADsubUL47, in which the central portion of the UL47 open reading frame has been replaced by two marker genes. The mutant replicated to titers 100-fold lower than those for wild-type virus after infection at either a high or a low input multiplicity in primary human fibroblasts but was substantially complemented on cells expressing UL47 protein. A revertant virus in which the mutation was repaired, ADrevUL47, replicated with wild-type kinetics. Mutant virions lacked UL47 protein and contained reduced amounts of UL48 protein. The mutant was found to be less infectious than wild-type virus, and a defect very early in the replication cycle was observed. Transcription of the viral immediate-early 1 gene was delayed by 8 to 10 h. However, this delay was not the result of a defect in virus entry or of the inability of virion proteins to transactivate the major immediate-early promoter. We also show that the UL47 protein coprecipitated with the UL48 and UL69 tegument proteins and the UL86-encoded major capsid protein. We propose that a UL47-containing complex is involved in the release of viral DNA from the disassembling virus particle and that the loss of UL47 protein causes this process to be delayed.
The human cytomegalovirus-induced changes to the transcriptome and proteome of infected cells in many ways resemble an abortive mitogenic response. The virus induces quiescent cells to re-enter the cell cycle, but they are prevented from entering the S phase, where the synthesis of the cellular genome would compete with that of the virus for the available precursors for DNA replication. The mechanisms of these cell cycle alterations include transcriptional induction and repression, post-translational modifications and changes in protein stability. Essentially every class of cell cycle regulators is affected, and some of the key proteins are targeted by multiple different mechanisms. While the effects on cell cycle progression of viral infection, and of individual viral genes outside the context of viral infection have been described, it is now important to synthesize these two experimental approaches to gain a more complete understanding of how and why human cytomegalovirus infection affects cell cycle progression.
The murine cytomegalovirus m02 gene family encodes putative type I membrane glycoproteins named m02 through m16. A subset of these genes were fused to an epitope tag and cloned into an expression vector. In transfected and murine cytomegalovirus-infected cells, m02, m04, m05, m06, m07, m09, m10, and m12 localized to cytoplasmic structures near the nucleus, whereas m08 and m13 localized to a filamentous structure surrounding the nucleus. Substitution mutants lacking the m02 gene (SMsubm02) or the entire m02 gene family (SMsubm02-16) grew like their wild-type parent in cultured cells. However, whereas SMsubm02 was as pathogenic as the wild-type virus, SMsubm02-16 was markedly less virulent. SMsubm02-16 produced less infectious virus in most organs compared to wild-type virus in BALB/c and C57BL/6J mice, but it replicated to wild-type levels in the organs of immunodeficient gamma(c)/Rag2 mice, lacking multiple cell types including natural killer cells, and in C57BL/6J mice depleted of natural killer cells. These results argue that one or more members of the m02 gene family antagonize natural killer cell-mediated immune surveillance.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) resides latently in hematopoietic cells of the bone marrow. Although viral genomes can be found in CD14+ monocytes and CD34+ progenitor cells, the primary reservoir for latent cytomegalovirus is unknown. We analyzed human hematopoietic subpopulations infected in vitro with a recombinant virus that expresses a green fluorescent protein marker gene. Although many hematopoietic cell subsets were infected in vitro, CD14+ monocytes and various CD34+ subpopulations were infected with the greatest efficiency. We have developed an in vitro system in which to study HCMV infection and latency in CD34+ cells cultured with irradiated stromal cells. Marker gene expression was substantially reduced by 4 days postinfection, and infectious virus was not made during the culture period. However, viral DNA sequences were maintained in infected CD34+ cells for >20 days in culture, and, importantly, virus replication could be reactivated by coculture with human fibroblasts. Using an HCMV gene array, we examined HCMV gene expression in CD34+ cells. The pattern of viral gene expression was distinct from that observed during productive or nonproductive infections. Some of these expressed viral genes may function in latency and are targets for further analysis. Altered gene expression in hematopoietic progenitors may be indicative of the nature and outcome of HCMV infection.
The human cytomegalovirus IRS1 and TRS1 open reading frames encode immediate-early proteins with identical N-terminal domains and divergent C-terminal regions. Both proteins have been shown previously to activate reporter genes in transfection assays in cooperation with other viral gene products. We have constructed two viruses carrying substitution mutations within either the IRS1 or TRS1 open reading frame. ADsubIRS1 failed to produce the related IRS1 and IRS1(263) proteins, but it replicated with normal kinetics to produce a wild-type yield in human fibroblasts. The addition in trans of the IRS1(263) protein, which antagonizes the ability of IRS1 and TRS1 proteins to activate reporter genes, did not inhibit the growth of the mutant virus. ADsubTRS1 failed to produce the TRS1 protein, and it generated an approximately 200-fold-reduced yield of infectious virus in comparison to its wild-type parent. Viral DNA accumulated normally, as did a set of viral mRNAs that were monitored in ADsubTRS1-infected cells. However, two tegument proteins were partially mislocalized and infectious virus particles did not accumulate to normal levels within ADsubTRS1-infected cells. Further, infectious ADsubTRS1 particles sedimented abnormally in a glycerol-tartrate gradient, indicating that the structure of the mutant particles is aberrant. Our analysis of the ADsubTRS1 phenotype indicates that the TRS1 protein is required, either directly or indirectly, for efficient assembly of virus particles.