Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Virology


Volume 87, Issue 10

Inclusive Pages



Apoptosis; Cytomegalovirus--pathogenicity; Host-Pathogen Interactions; Immediate-Early Proteins--metabolism; Proteasome Endopeptidase Complex--metabolism; bcl-2-Associated X Protein--antagonists & inhibitors


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) encodes the UL37 exon 1 protein (pUL37x1), which is the potent viral mitochondrion-localized inhibitor of apoptosis (vMIA), to increase survival of infected cells. HCMV vMIA traffics from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to ER subdomains, which are physically linked to mitochondria known as mitochondrion-associated membranes (MAM), and to mitochondria. The antiapoptotic function of vMIA is thought to primarily result from its ability to inhibit Bax-mediated permeabilization of the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM). Here, we establish that vMIA retargets Bax to the MAM as well as to the OMM from immediate early through late times of infection. However, MAM localization of Bax results in its increased ubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation. Surprisingly, HCMV infection does not increase OMM-associated degradation (OMMAD) of Bax, even though the ER and mitochondria are physically connected at the MAM. It was recently found that lipid rafts at the plasma membrane can connect extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways and can serve as sites of apoptosome assembly. In transfected permissive human fibroblasts, vMIA mediates, through its cholesterol affinity, association of Bax and apoptosome components with MAM lipid rafts. While Bax association with MAM lipid rafts was detected in HCMV-infected cells, association of apoptosome components was not. These results establish that Bax recruitment to the MAM and its MAM-associated degradation (MAMAD) are a newly described antiapoptotic mechanism used by HCMV infection to increase cell survival for its growth.


Copyright © American Society for Microbiology, Journal of Virology, 87(10):5657-5668, 2013. doi:10.1128/JVI.00145-13.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access