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Convergence of RNA cis Elements and Cellular Polyadenylation Factors in the Regulation of Human Cytomegalovirus UL37 Exon 1 Unspliced RNA Production

By Yan Su, Richard Adair, Candice N. Davis, Nancy L. DiFronzo and Anamaris M. Colberg-Poley


The human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) UL36-38 immediate early (IE) locus encodes proteins required for its growth. The UL37 promoter drives production of an unspliced and several alternatively spliced RNAs. The UL37 exon 1 (UL37x1) unspliced RNA is abundant from IE to late times of HCMV infection, whereas the UL37 spliced RNAs are markedly less abundant. Production of the UL37x1 unspliced RNA requires polyadenylation (PA) at nucleotide 50998, which lies within intron 1, upstream of the UL37 exon 2 (UL37x2) acceptor. The physical proximity of its cis elements suggests steric hindrance between PA and splicing machineries for UL37 pre-mRNA. To test this possibility, we generated site-specific mutants in Target 1 PA and RNA splicing cis elements and compared the PA and splicing efficiencies of mutant RNAs with those of wild-type RNA. The mutually exclusive processing events of UL37x1 PA and UL37x1-UL37x2 splicing have been accurately recapitulated in transfected permissive human fibroblasts (HFFs) expressing a Target 1 minigene RNA, which contains the required splicing and PA cis elements. Two mutants in the invariant PA signal dramatically decreased UL37x1 PA as expected and, concomitantly, increased the efficiency of UL37x1-UL37x2 RNA splicing. Consistent with these results, changes to consensus UL37x1 donor and UL37x2 acceptor sites increased the efficiency of UL37x1-UL37x2 RNA splicing but decreased the efficiency of UL37x1 PA. Moreover, HCMV infection of HFFs increased the abundance of the PA cleavage stimulatory factor CstF-64, the potent splicing suppressor PTB, and the hypophosphorylated form of the splicing factor SF2 at 4 h postinfection. Induction of these factors further favors production of the UL37x1 unspliced RNA over that of the spliced RNAs. Taken together, these results suggest that there is a convergence in UL37 RNA regulation by cis elements and cellular proteins which favors production of the UL37x1 unspliced RNA during HCMV infection at the posttranscriptional level

Topics: Virus-Cell Interactions
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1128/JVI.77.23.12729-12741.2003
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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