White spot syndrome virus protein ICP11: A histone-binding DNA mimic that disrupts nucleosome assembly

Hao Ching Wang, Han Ching Wang, Tzu Ping Ko, Yu May Lee, Jiann Horng Leu, Chun Han Ho, Wei Pang Huang, Chu Fang Lo, Andrew H J Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) is a large (≈300 kbp), double-stranded DNA eukaryotic virus that has caused serious disease in crustaceans worldwide. ICP11 is the most highly expressed WSSV nonstructural gene/protein, which strongly suggests its importance in WSSV infection; but until now, its function has remained obscure. We show here that ICP11 acts as a DNA mimic. In crystal, ICP11 formed a polymer of dimers with 2 rows of negatively charged spots that approximated the duplex arrangement of the phosphate groups in DNA. Functionally, ICP11 prevented DNA from binding to histone proteins H2A, H2B, H3, and H2A.x, and in hemocytes from WSSV-infected shrimp, ICP11 colocalized with histone H3 and activated-H2A.x. These observations together suggest that ICP11 might interfere with nucleosome assembly and prevent H2A.x from fulfilling its critical function of repairing DNA double strand breaks. Therefore, ICP11 possesses a functionality that is unique among the handful of presently known DNA mimic proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20758-20763
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number52
Publication statusPublished - Dec 30 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Crystal structure
  • DNase enhancer
  • Shrimp aquaculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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