1887

Abstract

The protein kinase pUL97, encoded by human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), is an important determinant of virus replication. Recently, indolocarbazoles were identified as a class of substances that inhibit the pUL97 kinase activity . In parallel, it was shown that indolocarbazoles interfere with HCMV replication; however, the causal relationship between inhibition of pUL97 kinase activity and virus replication has not been clarified. Here evidence is provided that indolocarbazole-mediated inhibition of virus replication is a direct result of diminished pUL97 protein kinase activity. In cell culture infections, a strong and selective antiviral activity was measured with respect to several strains of HCMV in contrast with other related or non-related viruses. For fine quantification, recombinant HCMVs expressing green fluorescent protein were used, demonstrating the high sensitivity towards compounds NGIC-I and Gö6976. Interestingly, a ganciclovir-resistant virus mutant (UL97-M460I) showed increased sensitivity to both compounds. Supporting this concept, transfection experiments with cloned pUL97 revealed that ganciclovir-resistant mutants were characterized by reduced levels of autophosphorylation compared with wild-type and possessed particularly high sensitivity to indolocarbazoles. Moreover, the Epstein–Barr virus-encoded homologous kinase, BGLF4, which showed a similar pattern of autophosphorylation and ganciclovir phosphorylation activities, was not inhibited. Importantly, a cytomegalovirus deletion mutant, lacking a functional UL97 gene and showing a severe impairment of replication, was completely insensitive to indolocarbazoles. Thus, our findings indicate that a specific block in the activity of pUL97 is the critical step in indolocarbazole-mediated inhibition of virus replication and that pUL97 might be targeted very efficiently by a novel antiviral therapy.

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2002-05-01
2019-12-13
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