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  • Physical requirements and functional consequences of complex formation between the cytomegalovirus IE1 protein and human STAT2.

Physical requirements and functional consequences of complex formation between the cytomegalovirus IE1 protein and human STAT2.

Journal of virology (2009-10-09)
Steffen Krauss, Julia Kaps, Nathalie Czech, Christina Paulus, Michael Nevels
ABSTRACT

Our previous work has shown that efficient evasion from type I interferon responses by human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) requires expression of the 72-kDa immediate-early 1 (IE1) protein. It has been suggested that IE1 inhibits interferon signaling through intranuclear sequestration of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 2 (STAT2) protein. Here we show that physical association and subnuclear colocalization of IE1 and STAT2 depend on short acidic and serine/proline-rich low-complexity motifs in the carboxy-terminal region of the 491-amino-acid viral polypeptide. These motifs compose an essential core (amino acids 373 to 420) and an adjacent ancillary site (amino acids 421 to 445) for STAT2 interaction that are predicted to form part of a natively unstructured domain. The presence of presumably "disordered" carboxy-terminal domains enriched in low-complexity motifs is evolutionarily highly conserved across all examined mammalian IE1 orthologs, and the murine cytomegalovirus IE1 protein appears to interact with STAT2 just like the human counterpart. A recombinant hCMV specifically mutated in the IE1 core STAT2 binding site displays hypersensitivity to alpha interferon, delayed early viral protein accumulation, and attenuated growth in fibroblasts. However, replication of this mutant virus is specifically restored by knockdown of STAT2 expression. Interestingly, complex formation with STAT2 proved to be entirely separable from disruption of nuclear domain 10 (ND10), another key activity of IE1. Finally, our results demonstrate that IE1 counteracts the antiviral interferon response and promotes viral replication by at least two distinct mechanisms, one depending on sequestration of STAT2 and the other one likely involving ND10 interaction.

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