RASCAL Is a New Human Cytomegalovirus-Encoded Protein That Localizes to the Nuclear Lamina and in Cytoplasmic Vesicles at Late Times Postinfection
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The products of numerous open reading frames (ORFs) present in the genome of human cytomegalovirus (CMV) have not been characterized. Here, we describe the identification of a new CMV protein localizing to the nuclear envelope and in cytoplasmic vesicles at late times postinfection. Based on this distinctive localization pattern, we called this new protein nuclear rim-associated cytomegaloviral protein, or RASCAL. Two RASCAL isoforms exist, a short version of 97 amino acids encoded by the majority of CMV strains and a longer version of 176 amino acids encoded by the Towne, Toledo, HAN20, and HAN38 strains. Both isoforms colocalize with lamin B in deep intranuclear invaginations of the inner nuclear membrane (INM) and in novel cytoplasmic vesicular structures possibly derived from the nuclear envelope. INM infoldings have been previously described as sites of nucleocapsid egress, which is mediated by the localized disruption of the nuclear lamina, promoted by the activities of viral and cellular kinases recruited by the lamina-associated proteins UL50 and UL53. RASCAL accumulation at the nuclear membrane required the presence of UL50 but not of UL53. RASCAL and UL50 also appeared to specifically interact, suggesting that RASCAL is a new component of the nuclear egress complex (NEC) and possibly involved in mediating nucleocapsid egress from the nucleus. Finally, the presence of RASCAL within cytoplasmic vesicles raises the intriguing possibility that this protein might participate in additional steps of virion maturation occurring after capsid release from the nucleus.
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