We have characterized the function of the human cytomegalovirus US24 gene, a US22 gene family member. Two US24-deficient mutants (BADinUS24 and BADsubUS24) exhibited a 20- to 30-fold growth defect, compared to their wild-type parent (BADwt), after infection at a relatively low (0.01 PFU/cell) or high (1 PFU/cell) input multiplicity. Representative virus-encoded proteins and viral DNA accumulated with normal kinetics to wild-type levels after infection with mutant virus when cells received equal numbers of mutant and wild-type infectious units. Further, the proteins were properly localized and no ultrastructural differences were found by electron microscopy in mutant-virus-infected cells compared to wild-type-virus-infected cells. However, virions produced by US24-deficient mutants had a 10-fold-higher genome-to-PFU ratio than wild-type virus. When infections were performed using equal numbers of input virus particles, the expression of immediate-early, early, and late viral proteins was substantially delayed and decreased in the absence of US24 protein. This delay is not due to inefficient virus entry, since two tegument proteins and viral DNA moved to the nucleus equally well in mutant- and wild-type-virus-infected cells. In summary, US24 is a virion protein and virions produced by US24-deficient viruses exhibit a block to the human cytomegalovirus replication cycle after viral DNA reaches the nucleus and before immediate-early mRNAs are transcribed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science