Human cytomegalovirus UL135 interacts with host adaptor proteins to regulate epidermal growth factor receptor and reactivation from latency

Michael A. Rak, Jason Buehler, Sebastian Zeltzer, Justin Reitsma, Belen Molina, Scott Terhune, Felicia Goodrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Human cytomegalovirus, HCMV, is a betaherpesvirus that establishes a lifelong latent infection in its host that is marked by recurrent episodes of reactivation. The molecular mechanisms by which the virus and host regulate entry into and exit from latency remain poorly understood. We have previously reported that UL135 is critical for reactivation, functioning in part by overcoming suppressive effects of the latency determinant UL138. We have demonstrated a role for UL135 in diminishing cell surface levels and targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) for turnover. The attenuation of EGFR signaling promotes HCMV reactivation in combination with cellular differentiation. In this study, we sought to define the mechanisms by which UL135 functions in regulating EGFR turnover and viral reactivation. Screens to identify proteins interacting with pUL135 identified two host adaptor proteins, CIN85 and Abi-1, with overlapping activities in regulating EGFR levels in the cell. We mapped the amino acids in pUL135 necessary for interaction with Abi-1 and CIN85 and generated recombinant viruses expressing variants of pUL135 that do not interact with CIN85 or Abi-1. These recombinant viruses replicate in fibroblasts but are defective for reactivation in an experimental model for latency using primary CD34 + hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). These UL135 variants have altered trafficking of EGFR and are defective in targeting EGFR for turnover. These studies demonstrate a requirement for pUL135 interactions with Abi-1 and CIN85 for regulation of EGFR and mechanistically link the regulation of EGFR to reactivation. IMPORTANCE Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) establishes a lifelong latent infection in the human host. While the infection is typically asymptomatic in healthy individuals, HCMV infection poses life-threatening disease risk in immunocompromised individuals and is the leading cause of birth defects. Understanding how HCMV controls the lifelong latent infection and reactivation of replication from latency is critical to developing strategies to control HCMV disease. Here, we identify the host factors targeted by a viral protein that is required for reactivation. We define the importance of this virus-host interaction in reactivation from latency, providing new insights into the molecular underpinnings of HCMV latency and reactivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00919
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Cytomegalovirus
  • EGFR
  • Human herpesviruses
  • Latency
  • Rab5
  • UL135

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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