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pUL21 is a viral phosphatase adaptor that promotes herpes simplex virus replication and spread.

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Benedyk, Tomasz H 
Muenzner, Julia 
Connor, Viv 
Han, Yue 


The herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1 protein pUL21 is essential for efficient virus replication and dissemination. While pUL21 has been shown to promote multiple steps of virus assembly and spread, the molecular basis of its function remained unclear. Here we identify that pUL21 is a virus-encoded adaptor of protein phosphatase 1 (PP1). pUL21 directs the dephosphorylation of cellular and virus proteins, including components of the viral nuclear egress complex, and we define a conserved non-canonical linear motif in pUL21 that is essential for PP1 recruitment. In vitro evolution experiments reveal that pUL21 antagonises the activity of the virus-encoded kinase pUS3, with growth and spread of pUL21 PP1-binding mutant viruses being restored in adapted strains where pUS3 activity is disrupted. This study shows that virus-directed phosphatase activity is essential for efficient herpesvirus assembly and spread, highlighting the fine balance between kinase and phosphatase activity required for optimal virus replication.



Animals, Chlorocebus aethiops, HEK293 Cells, Herpes Simplex, Herpesvirus 1, Human, Humans, Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases, Vero Cells, Viral Proteins, Virus Assembly, Virus Release, Virus Replication

Journal Title

PLoS Pathogens

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Wellcome Trust (106207/Z/14/Z)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/M021424/1)
Wellcome Trust (098406/Z/12/B)
Wellcome Trust (219447/Z/19/Z)
Wellcome Trust (098406/Z/12/Z)
Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship (219447/Z/19/Z), Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship (106207/Z/14/Z), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Research Grant (BB/M021424/1), Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society (098406/Z/12/B).
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