Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality in the immunocompromised, and is a leading cause of congenital infection. Only three drugs are available for treatment, all with significant toxicities. New therapies and a vaccine are urgently required. Susceptibility to viral infection and disease is determined in part by antiviral restriction factors (ARFs) and the viral proteins that have evolved to degrade them. Small-molecule disruption of the interaction between an ARF and a viral antagonist can inhibit viral replication and may be utilised for antiviral therapies. To identify novel restriction factors against HCMV, we previously developed a multiplexed proteomic approach to identify proteins that are actively degraded early during HCMV infection. We reasoned that these would be enriched in known and novel ARFs that the virus must degrade in order to replicate. 35 proteins were shown to be degraded according to stringent statistical criteria, which included the known anti-HCMV restriction factors Sp100 and MORC3, and a novel ARF, HLTF. Here, we present preliminary results from a combination of viral replication assays to identify other novel ARFs. These include a new ‘two-colour’ approach to characterise HCMV restriction, which aims to eliminate variability in cell density by mixing populations of cells in a single cell culture well. Preliminary studies have identified a number of proteins that inhibit virus replication, as well as a novel dependency factor which the virus may degrade in order to attenuate cellular immune signalling or help establish latency.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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