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Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) employs numerous strategies to combat, subvert, or co-opt host immunity. One evolutionary strategy for this involves capture of a host gene and then its successive duplication and divergence, forming a family of genes, many of which have immunomodulatory activities. The HCMV US12 family consists of 10 tandemly arranged sequence-related genes in the unique short (US) region of the HCMV genome (US12 to US21). Each gene encodes a protein possessing seven predicted transmembrane domains, patches of sequence similarity with cellular G-protein-coupled receptors, and the Bax inhibitor 1 family of antiapoptotic proteins. We show that one member, US17, plays an important role during virion maturation. Microarray analysis of cells infected with a recombinant HCMV isolate with a US17 deletion (the ΔUS17 mutant virus) revealed blunted host innate and interferon responses at early times after infection (12 h postinfection [hpi]), a pattern opposite that previously seen in the absence of the immunomodulatory tegument protein pp65 (pUL83). Although the ΔUS17 mutant virus produced numbers of infectious particles in fibroblasts equal to the numbers produced by the parental virus, it produced >3-fold more genome-containing noninfectious viral particles and delivered increased amounts of pp65 to newly infected cells. These results suggest that US17 has evolved to control virion composition, to elicit an appropriately balanced host immune response. At later time points (96 hpi), ΔUS17 mutant-infected cells displayed aberrant expression of several host endoplasmic reticulum stress response genes and chaperones, some of which are important for the final stages of virion assembly and egress. Our results suggest that US17 modulates host pathways to enable production of virions that elicit an appropriately balanced host immune response.


Immunology and Infectious Disease | Microbiology


Copyright © 2014, American Society for Microbiology. Included here in compliance with publisher policies. Version of record at doi:10.1128/JVI.02704-13.

2014.jv.88.4.figS1.pdf (2274 kB)
Supplemental: FigS1

2014.jv.88.4.tabS1.xls (3876 kB)
Supplemental: TabS1

2014.jv.88.4.tabS2.xls (225 kB)
Supplemental: TabS2