Select mutations in the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) gene UL27 confer low-grade resistance to the HCMV UL97 kinase inhibitor maribavir (MBV). It has been reported that the 608-amino acid UL27 gene product (pUL27) normally localizes to cell nuclei and nucleoli, whereas its truncation at codon 415, as found in a MBV-resistant mutant, results in cytoplasmic localization. We now show that in the context of full-length pUL27, diverse single amino acid substitutions associated with MBV resistance result in loss of its nucleolar localization when visualized after transient transfection, whereas substitutions representing normal interstrain polymorphism had no such effect. The same differences in localization were observed during a complete infection cycle with recombinant HCMV strains over-expressing full-length fluorescent pUL27 variants. Nested UL27 C-terminal truncation expression plasmids showed that amino acids 596-599 were required for the nucleolar localization of pUL27. These results indicate that the loss of a nucleolar function of pUL27 may contribute to MBV resistance, and that the nucleolar localization of pUL27 during HCMV infection depends not only on a carboxy-terminal domain but also on a property of pUL27 that is affected by MBV-resistant mutations, such as an interaction with component(s) of the nucleolus.
- Drug resistance
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