Residues of human cytomegalovirus DNA polymerase catalytic subunit UL54 that are necessary and sufficient for interaction with the accessory protein UL44

J Virol. 2004 Jan;78(1):158-67. doi: 10.1128/jvi.78.1.158-167.2004.


The human cytomegalovirus DNA polymerase contains a catalytic subunit, UL54, and an accessory protein, UL44. Recent studies suggested that UL54 might interact via its extreme C terminus with UL44 (A. Loregian, R. Rigatti, M. Murphy, E. Schievano, G. Palu', and H. S. Marsden, J. Virol. 77:8336-8344, 2003). To address this hypothesis, we quantitatively measured the binding of peptides corresponding to the extreme C terminus of UL54 to UL44 by using isothermal titration calorimetry. A peptide corresponding to the last 22 residues of UL54 was sufficient to bind specifically to UL44 in a 1:1 complex with a dissociation constant of ca. 0.7 microM. To define individual residues in this segment that are crucial for interacting with UL44, we engineered a series of mutations in the C-terminal region of UL54. The UL54 mutants were tested for their ability to interact with UL44 by glutathione S-transferase pulldown assays, for basal DNA polymerase activity, and for long-chain DNA synthesis in the presence of UL44. We observed that deletion of the C-terminal segment or substitution of alanine for Leu1227 or Phe1231 in UL54 greatly impaired both the UL54-UL44 interaction in pulldown assays and long-chain DNA synthesis without affecting basal polymerase activity, identifying these residues as important for subunit interaction. Thus, like the herpes simplex virus UL30-UL42 interaction, a few specific side chains in the C terminus of UL54 are crucial for UL54-UL44 interaction. However, the UL54 residues important for interaction with UL44 are hydrophobic and not basic. This information might aid in the rational design of new drugs for the treatment of human cytomegalovirus infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Catalytic Domain*
  • Cytomegalovirus / enzymology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / chemistry*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Peptides / chemical synthesis
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Plasmids
  • Protein Binding
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ICP36 protein, Cytomegalovirus
  • Peptides
  • UL54 protein, Human herpesvirus 5
  • Viral Proteins
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase