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

Mutations in the putative zinc-binding motif of UL52 demonstrate a complex interdependence between the UL5 and UL52 subunits of the human herpes simplex virus type 1 helicase/primase complex.

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) encodes a heterotrimeric helicase-primase ( UL5/8/52) complex. UL5 contains seven motifs found in helicase superfamily 1, and UL52 contains conserved motifs found in primases. The contributions of each subunit to the biochemical activities of the complex, however, remain unclear. We have previously demonstrated that a mutation in the putative zinc finger at UL52 C terminus abrogates not only primase but also ATPase, helicase, and DNA-binding activities of a UL5/UL52 subcomplex, indicating a complex interdependence between the two subunits. To test this hypothesis and to further investigate the role of the zinc finger in the enzymatic activities of the helicase-primase, a series of mutations were constructed in this motif. They differed in their ability to complement a UL52 null virus: totally defective, partial complementation, and potentiating. In this study, four of these mutants were studied biochemically after expression and purification from insect cells infected with recombinant baculoviruses. All mutants show greatly reduced primase activity. Complementation-defective mutants exhibited severe defects in ATPase, helicase, and DNA-binding activities. Partially complementing mutants displayed intermediate levels of these activities, except that one showed a wild-type level of helicase activity. These data suggest that the UL52 zinc finger motif plays an important role in the activities of the helicase-primase complex. The observation that mutations in UL52 affected helicase, ATPase, and DNA-binding activities indicates that UL52 binding to DNA via the zinc finger may be necessary for loading UL5. Alternatively, UL5 and UL52 may share a DNA-binding interface.[1]


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