The catalytic subunit of herpes simplex virus type 1 DNA polymerase contains a nuclear localization signal in the UL42-binding region

Virology. 2000 Jul 20;273(1):139-48. doi: 10.1006/viro.2000.0390.


The herpes simplex virus type 1 DNA polymerase consists of a catalytic subunit (POL or UL30) and a processivity factor (UL42). The POL/UL42 interaction, which occurs through the extreme C-terminus of POL, is essential for HSV-1 replication and thus represents a valid target for drug inhibition. We recently showed (A. Loregian et al. (1999) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 96, 5221-5226) that an oligopeptide corresponding to the 27 C-terminal amino acids of POL, when delivered into herpes simplex virus type 1-infected cells by a protein carrier, was able to localize into the nucleus and to inhibit viral replication by disruption of the POL/UL42 interaction. In this report, to further characterize the 27 mer (Pol peptide), we investigated whether its nuclear localization was due to the presence of a nuclear localization signal. By testing the ability of the Pol peptide to localize the beta-galactosidase, a normally cytoplasmic protein, to the nucleus, we confirmed that the Pol peptide contained a functional nuclear localization signal, corresponding to the RRMLHR motif. This sequence proved not only necessary but also sufficient for nuclear localization, because its substitution with a six-alanine stretch prevented nuclear translocation of the beta-galactosidase-Pol peptide fusion. Site-directed mutagenesis experiments on this revealed that both the three basic arginines and the two hydrophobic residues Met and Leu were crucial for nuclear targeting. Finally, functionally equivalent sequences were also found in the C-terminus of the catalytic subunits of human cytomegalovirus (RRLHL) and of equine herpesvirus-1 DNA polymerase (RRILH).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Biological Transport
  • Catalytic Domain*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cytomegalovirus / enzymology
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Exodeoxyribonucleases / chemistry*
  • Exodeoxyribonucleases / genetics
  • Exodeoxyribonucleases / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Herpesvirus 1, Equid / enzymology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / enzymology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Nuclear Localization Signals* / genetics
  • Nuclear Localization Signals* / physiology
  • Protein Binding
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Transfection
  • Vero Cells
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Nuclear Localization Signals
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase
  • Exodeoxyribonucleases
  • DNA polymerase, Simplexvirus
  • beta-Galactosidase