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J Virol. 2006 Mar;80(5):2216-24.

Heptad repeat 2 in herpes simplex virus 1 gH interacts with heptad repeat 1 and is critical for virus entry and fusion.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Pathology, Section on Microbiology and Virology, University of Bologna, Italy.

Erratum in

  • J Virol. 2007 Mar;81(5):2541.


Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) entry into cells and cell-cell fusion mediated by HSV-1 glycoproteins require four glycoproteins, gD, gB, gH, gL. Of these, gH is the only one that so far exhibits structural-functional features typical of viral fusion glycoproteins, i.e., a candidate fusion peptide and, downstream of it, a heptad repeat (HR) segment able to form a coiled coil, named HR-1. Here, we show that gH carries a functional HR-2 capable of physical interaction with HR-1. Specifically, mutational analysis of gH aimed at increasing or decreasing the ability of HR-2 to form a coiled coil resulted in an increase or decrease of fusion activity, respectively. HSV infection was modified accordingly. A mimetic peptide with the HR-2 sequence inhibited HSV-1 infection in a specific and dose-dependent manner. Circular dichroism spectroscopy showed that both HR-2 and HR-1 mimetic peptides adopt mainly random conformation in aqueous solution, while a decrease in peptide environmental polarity determines a conformational change, with a significant increase of the alpha-helical conformation content, in particular, for the HR-1 peptide. Furthermore, HR-1 and HR-2 mimetic peptides formed a stable complex, as revealed in nondenaturing electrophoresis and by circular dichroism. The mixture of HR-1 and HR-2 peptides reversed the inhibition of HSV infection exerted by the single peptides. Complex formation between HR-1 and HR-2 was independent of the presence of adjacent gH sequences and of additional glycoproteins involved in entry and fusion. Altogether, HR-2 adds to the features typical of class 1 fusion glycoproteins exhibited by HSV-1 gH.

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