Terminal differentiation of embryonal carcinoma cells and monocytes has been shown to be important for their permissiveness for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection, even though such terminally differentiated cells have withdrawn from the cell cycle and are, essentially, in G arrest. Recently, data from a number of laboratories have shown that productive infection with HCMV of quiescent fibroblasts held reversibly in G of the cell cycle can result in cell cycle progression, which results eventually in cycle arrest. In contrast to quiescent fibroblasts, the effect of HCMV on cells that have withdrawn irreversibly from the cell cycle due to terminal differentiation has not, so far, been addressed. Here, it is shown that, in cells that have arrested in G as a result of terminal differentiation, HCMV is able to induce cell functions associated with progression of the cell cycle through G into early S phase. This progression is correlated with a direct physical and functional interaction between the HCMV 86 kDa major immediate-early protein (IE86) and the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21.


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