Human cytomegalovirus DNA polymerase catalytic subunit pUL54 possesses independently acting nuclear localization and ppUL44 binding motifs

Traffic. 2006 Oct;7(10):1322-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2006.00477.x. Epub 2006 Aug 15.


The catalytic subunit of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) DNA polymerase pUL54 is a 1242-amino-acid protein, whose function, stimulated by the processivity factor, phosphoprotein UL44 (ppUL44), is essential for viral replication. The C-terminal residues (amino acids 1220-1242) of pUL54 have been reported to be sufficient for ppUL44 binding in vitro. Although believed to be important for functioning in the nuclei of infected cells, no data are available on either the interaction of pUL54 with ppUL44 in living mammalian cells or the mechanism of pUL54 nuclear transport and its relationship with that of ppUL44. The present study examines for the first time the nuclear import pathway of pUL54 and its interaction with ppUL44 using dual color, quantitative confocal laser scanning microscopy on live transfected cells and quantitative gel mobility shift assays. We showed that of two nuclear localization signals (NLSs) located at amino acids 1153-1159 (NLSA) and 1222-1227 (NLSB), NLSA is sufficient to confer nuclear localization on green fluorescent protein (GFP) by mediating interaction with importin alpha/beta. We also showed that pUL54 residues 1213-1242 are sufficient to confer ppUL44 binding abilities on GFP and that pUL54 and ppUL44 can be transported to the nucleus as a complex. Our work thus identified distinct sites within the HCMV DNA polymerase, which represent potential therapeutic targets and establishes the molecular basis of UL54 nuclear import.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs*
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cytomegalovirus / enzymology*
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / genetics
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Localization Signals*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Viral Structural Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Structural Proteins / metabolism*


  • Nuclear Localization Signals
  • Protein Subunits
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Viral Structural Proteins
  • DNA-Directed DNA Polymerase