Stability of Structured Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus ORF57 Protein Is Regulated by Protein Phosphorylation and Homodimerization

Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) ORF57 plays an essential role in KSHV lytic infection by promoting viral gene expression at the posttranscriptional level. Using bioinformatic and biochemical approaches, we determined that ORF57 contains two structurally and functionally distinct domains: a disordered nonstructural N-terminal domain (amino acids [aa] 1 to 152) and a structured α-helix-rich C-terminal domain (aa 153 to 455). The N-terminal domain mediates ORF57 interaction with several RNA-protein complexes essential for ORF57 to function. The N-terminal phosphorylation by cellular casein kinase II (CKII) at S21, T32, and S43, and other cellular kinases at S95 and S97 residues in proximity of the caspase-7 cleavage site, 30-DETD-33, inhibits caspase-7 digestion of ORF57. The structured C-terminal domain mediates homodimerization of ORF57, and the critical region for this function was mapped carefully to α-helices 7 to 9. Introduction of point mutations into α-helix 7 at ORF57 aa 280 to 299, a region highly conserved among ORF57 homologues from other herpesviruses, inhibited ORF57 homodimerization and led to proteasome-mediated degradation of ORF57 protein. ...

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