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J Virol. 2006 Oct;80(19):9481-96.

Essential functions of the unique N-terminal region of the varicella-zoster virus glycoprotein E ectodomain in viral replication and in the pathogenesis of skin infection.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics and Microbiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr., Rm G312, Stanford, CA 94305-5208, USA.


Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) glycoprotein E (gE) is a multifunctional protein important for cell-cell spread, envelopment, and possibly entry. In contrast to other alphaherpesviruses, gE is essential for VZV replication. Interestingly, the N-terminal region of gE, comprised of amino acids 1 to 188, was shown not to be conserved in the other alphaherpesviruses by bioinformatics analysis. Mutational analysis was performed to investigate the functions associated with this unique gE N-terminal region. Linker insertions, serine-to-alanine mutations, and deletions were introduced in the gE N-terminal region in the VZV genome, and the effects of these mutations on virus replication and cell-cell spread, gE trafficking and localization, virion formation, and replication in vivo in the skin were analyzed. In summary, mutagenesis of the gE N-terminal region identified a new functional region in the VZV gE ectodomain essential for cell-cell spread and the pathogenesis of VZV skin tropism and demonstrated that different subdomains of the unique N-terminal region had specific roles in viral replication, cell-cell spread, and secondary envelopment.

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