Identification of nuclear and nucleolar localization signals in the herpes simplex virus regulatory protein ICP27

W. E. Mears, V. Lam, S. A. Rice

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Previous work has shown that the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) regulatory protein ICP27 localizes to the cell nucleus and that certain mutant ICP27 polypeptides localize preferentially in nucleoli. To map the signals in ICP27 which mediate its nuclear localization, we identified the portions of ICP27 which can direct a cytoplasmic protein, pyruvate kinase (PK), to nuclei. Our results demonstrate that ICP27 contains multiple nuclear localization signals (NLSs) that function with differing efficiencies. First, ICP27 possesses a strong NLS, mapping to residues 110 to 137, which bears similarity to the bipartite NLSs found in Xenopus laevis nucleoplasmin and other proteins. Second, ICP27 possesses one or more weak NLSs which map to a carboxyl-terminal portion of the protein between residues 140 and 512. Our PK-targeting experiments also demonstrate that ICP27 contains a relatively short sequence, mapping to residues 110 to 152, that can function as a nucleolar localization signal (NuLS). This signal includes ICP27's strong NLS as well as 15 contiguous residues which consist entirely of arginine and glycine. This latter sequence is very similar to an RGG box, a putative RNA- binding motif found in a number of cellular proteins which are involved in nuclear RNA processing. To confirm the results of the PK-targeting experiments, we mutated the ICP27 gene by deleting sequences encoding either the strong NLS or the RGG box. Deletion of the strong NLS (residues 109 to 138) resulted in an ICP27 molecule that was only partially defective for nuclear localization, while deletion of the RGG box (residues 139 to 153) resulted in a molecule that was nuclear localized but excluded from nucleoli. Recombinant HSV-1s bearing either of these deletions were unable to replicate efficiently in Vero cells, suggesting that ICP27's strong NLS and RGG box carry out important in vivo functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-947
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1995


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