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Major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules play an important role in host immunity to infection by presenting antigenic peptides to cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), which recognize and destroy virus-infected cells. Members of the Herpesviridae have developed multiple mechanisms to avoid CTL recognition by virtue of downregulation of MHC-I on the cell surface. We report here on an immunomodulatory protein involved in this process, pUL56, which is encoded by ORF1 of equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1), an alphaherpesvirus. We show that EHV-1 pUL56 is a phosphorylated early protein which is expressed as different forms and predominantly localizes to Golgi membranes. In addition, the transmembrane (TM) domain of the type II membrane protein was shown to be indispensable for correct subcellular localization and a proper function. pUL56 by itself is not functional with respect to interference with MHC-I and likely needs another unidentified viral protein(s) to perform this action. Surprisingly, pUL49.5, an inhibitor of the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) and encoded by EHV-1 and related viruses, appeared not to be required for pUL56-induced early MHC-I downmodulation in infected cells. In conclusion, our data identify a new immunomodulatory protein, pUL56, involved in MHC-I downregulation which is unable to perform its function outside the context of viral infection.