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Background: Pseudorabies virus (PRV) protein UL56 (pUL56) has been implicated in viral dissemination and virulence in vivo. However, the properties of PRV pUL56 remain largely unknown. In the present study, we aim to investigate the subcellular localization of pUL56 and the underlying molecular basis in transfected cells. Methods: Constructs of N-terminal green fluorescent protein (GFP) fused pUL56 and its truncations were employed for investigating subcellular localization and further identifying amino acids crucial for pUL56 localization in transfected Vero cells. Finally, the identified amino acids were replaced with alanine for confirming if these mutations could impair the specific localization of pUL56. Results: The pUL56 predominantly localized at the Golgi and trans-Golgi network (TGN) through its predicted C-terminal transmembrane helix in transfected Vero cells. A Golgi-associated protein Rab6a, independent of interaction with pUL56, was significantly downregulated by pUL56. Further, we found three truncated pUL56 C-terminal fragments (174-184, 175-185 and 191-195) could restrict GFP in the perinuclear region, respectively. Within these truncations, the 174proline (P), 181leucine (L), 185L and 191L were essential for maintaining perinuclear accumulation, thus suggesting an important role of leucine. Alanine (A) mutagenesis assays were employed to generate a series of pUL56 C-terminal mutants on the basis of leucine. Finally, a pUL56 mutant M10 (174P/A-177L/A-181L/A-185L/A-191L/A-194L/A-195I/A-196-197L/A-200L/A) lost Golgi-TGN localization. Thus, our data revealed that the leucine-rich transmembrane helix was responsible for pUL56 Golgi-TGN localization and retention, probably through specific intracellular membrane insertion. Conclusion: Our data indicated that the C-terminal transmembrane helix was responsible for the Golgi-TGN localization of pUL56. In addition, the leucines within C-terminal transmembrane helix were essential for maintaining pUL56 Golgi-TGN retention in cells. Further, the pUL56 can induce downregulation of Golgi-associated protein Rab6a.
Lyu, C., & Cai, X. (2019). A GFP-tagged version of the pseudorabies virus protein UL56 localizes to the Golgi and trans-Golgi network through a predicted C-terminal leucine-rich helix in transfected cells. Virology Journal, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12985-019-1191-z