Indexed on: 16 Feb '06Published on: 16 Feb '06Published in: Molecular and cellular biology
The UL69 gene product of human cytomegalovirus belongs to a family of regulatory proteins conserved among all herpesviruses that have in part been characterized as posttranscriptional transactivators participating in the nuclear export of RNA. Recent experiments suggested that pUL69 also acts as a posttranscriptional activator since it was demonstrated that nucleocytoplasmic shuttling via a CRM1-independent nuclear export signal is a prerequisite for its stimulatory effect on gene expression. Based on these findings we initiated studies to investigate the role of pUL69 in mRNA export and demonstrate that pUL69 efficiently promotes the cytoplasmic accumulation of unspliced RNA. Furthermore, we show that this pUL69 activity is linked to the cellular mRNA export machinery by direct protein interaction with the highly related DEXD/H-box RNA helicases UAP56 and URH49. Particularly, we identified a 12-amino-acid domain within the N terminus of pUL69 which is required for binding to UAP56 and URH49, and we could demonstrate that UAP56 interaction and nucleocytoplasmic shuttling are both prerequisites for pUL69-mediated mRNA export. Thus, we identified a novel cellular target which provides a herpesviral regulatory protein with access to a conserved cellular transport system in order to promote nuclear export of unspliced RNA.