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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The protein encoded by the US3 orthologue of Marek's disease virus is required for efficient de-envelopment of perinuclear virions and involved in actin stress fiber breakdown.

Marek's disease virus (MDV) encodes a protein exhibiting high amino acid similarity to the US3 protein of herpes simplex virus type 1 and the gene 66 product of varicella-zoster virus. The MDV US3 orthologue was replaced with a kanamycin resistance gene in the infectious bacterial artificial chromosome clone BAC20. After transfection of US3-negative BAC20 DNA (20DeltaUS3), the resulting recombinant 20DeltaUS3 virus exhibited markedly reduced growth kinetics. Virus titers on chicken embryo cells were reduced by approximately 10-fold, and plaque sizes were significantly smaller (65% reduction) compared to parental BAC20 virus. The defect of the US3-negative MDV was completely restored in a revertant virus (20US3*) expressing a US3 protein with a carboxy-terminal FLAG tag. Electron microscopical studies revealed that the defect of the 20DeltaUS3 mutant to efficiently spread from cell to cell was concomitant with an accumulation in the perinuclear space of primarily enveloped virions in characteristic vesicles containing several virus particles, which resulted in reduced numbers of particles in the cytoplasm. The formation of these vesicles was not observed in cells infected with either parental BAC20 virus or the 20US3* revertant virus. The role of the MDV US3 protein in actin stress fiber breakdown was investigated by visualizing actin with phalloidin-Alexa 488 after infection or transfection of a US3 expression plasmid. Addition of the actin-depolymerizing drug cytochalasin D to cells transfected or infected with BAC20 resulted in complete inhibition of plaque formation with as little as 50 nM of the drug, while concentrations of nocodazole as high as 50 microM only had a relatively minor effect on MDV plaque formation. The results indicated that the MDV US3 serine-threonine protein kinase is transiently involved in MDV-mediated stress fiber breakdown and that polymerization of actin, but not microtubules, plays an important role in MDV cell-to-cell spread.[1]


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