The herpes simplex virus (HSV) immediate early protein ICP47 inhibits the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP)-dependent peptide translocation. As a consequence, empty major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules are retained in the endoplasmic reticulum and recognition of HSV-infected cells by cytotoxic T lymphocytes is abolished. We chemically synthesized full-length ICP47 (sICP47) and show that sICP47 inhibits TAP- dependent peptide translocation in human cells. Its biological activity is indistinguishable from that of recombinant ICP47 (rICP47). By using synthetic peptides, we mapped the core sequence of ICP47 minimally required for TAP inhibition to residues 2-35. This segment is located within the region of the molecule conserved between ICP47 from HSV-1 and HSV-2. Through alanine scanning substitution we identified three segments within this region that are critical for the ability to inhibit TAP function. The interaction of ICP47 with TAP is unlikely to mimic precisely that of the transported peptides, as deduced from differential labeling of the TAP1 and TAP2 subunits using sICP47 fragments with chemical cross-linkers.
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