The human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) terminase complex consists of several components acting together to cleave viral DNA into unit length genomes and translocate them into capsids, a critical process in the production of infectious virions subsequent to DNA replication. Previous studies suggest that the carboxyl-terminal portion of the pUL56 subunit interacts with the pUL89 subunit. However, the specific interacting residues of pUL56 remain unknown. We identified a conserved sequence in the C-terminal moiety of pUL56 (671WMVVKYMGFF680). Overrepresentation of conserved aromatic amino acids through 20 herpesviruses homologues of pUL56 suggests an involvement of this short peptide into the interaction between the larger pUL56 terminase subunit and the smaller pUL89 subunit. Use of Alpha technology highlighted an interaction between pUL56 and pUL89 driven through the peptide 671WMVVKYMGFF680. A deletion of these residues blocks viral replication. We hypothesize that it is the consequence of the disruption of the pUL56-pUL89 interaction. These results show that this motif is essential for HCMV replication and could be a target for development of new small antiviral drugs or peptidomimetics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas