The nuclear localization signal-mediated nuclear targeting of herpes simplex virus 1 early protein UL2 is important for efficient viral production.Aging (Albany NY). 2020 02 07; 12(3):2921-2938.A
Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is a representative alphaherpesvirus that can provoke a series of severe diseases to human being, but its exact pathogenesis is not perfectly understood. UL2, a uracil-DNA glycosylase involved in the process of HSV-1 DNA replication, has been shown to be predominantly targeted to the nuclei in our previous study, yet little is established regarding the subcellular localization signal or its related function of UL2 during HSV-1 propagation. Here, by creating a number of UL2 variants merged with enhanced yellow fluorescent protein, an authentic nuclear localization signal (NLS) of UL2 was, for the first time, identified and profiled to amino acids (aa) 1 to 17 (MKRACSRSPSPRRRPSS), and 12RRR14 was indispensable for its nuclear accumulation. Besides, the predicted nuclear export signal (aa 225 to 240) of UL2 was determined to be nonfunctional. Based on the HSV-1 bacterial artificial chromosome and homologous recombination technique, three recombinant viruses with mutations of the identified NLS, deletion and revertant of UL2 were constructed to assess the effect of UL2 nuclear targeting on HSV-1 replication. Compared to the wild type HSV-1, UL2 deletion remarkably restrained viral production, and mutation of NLS targeting UL2 to cytoplasm (pan-cellular distribution) in recombinant virus-infected cells showed a certain degree of deficiency in HSV-1 proliferation. Moreover, recombinant virus with UL2 deletion exhibited serious damages of viral DNA synthesis and mRNA expression, and these processes were partially disrupted in the recombinant virus with UL2 NLS mutation. Collectively, we had established a functional NLS in UL2 and showed that the NLS-mediated nuclear translocation of UL2 was important for efficient production of HSV-1. These data were of significance for further clarifying the biological function of UL2 during HSV-1 infection.