We have previously observed that the expression of two thymidylate biosynthesis enzymes, dihydrofolate reductase and thymidylate synthase (TS), is upregulated in quiescent human fibroblasts infected with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). Here, we have demonstrated that HCMV increases expression of the cellular deoxycytidylate deaminase (dCMP deaminase), which provides the substrate for TS by converting dCMP to dUMP. We observed an increase in dCMP deaminase protein levels, whereas deoxyuridine triphosphatase (dUTPase), another cellular enzyme that may provide dUMP by hydrolysing dUTP, was undetectable. The essential requirement of cellular dCMP deaminase for productive HCMV replication was further emphasized by showing that a precursor of a potent dCMP deaminase inhibitor, zebularine, suppressed virus replication and DNA synthesis. These results suggest that HCMV exploits the host's dCMP deaminase activity to replicate in quiescent cells.
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