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J Virol. 2012 Jan;86(1):473-83. doi: 10.1128/JVI.05981-11. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Analysis of the interaction between the essential herpes simplex virus 1 tegument proteins VP16 and VP1/2.

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  • 1Division of Virology, Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


The incorporation of tegument proteins into the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) virion during virion assembly is thought to be a complex, multistage process occurring via numerous interactions between the tegument and the capsid, within the tegument, and between the tegument and the envelope. Here, we set out to examine if the direct interaction between two essential tegument proteins VP1/2 and VP16 is required for connecting the inner tegument with the outer tegument. By using glutathione S-transferase (GST) pulldowns, we identified an essential role of lysine 343 in VP16, mutation of which to a neutral amino acid abrogated the interaction between VP1/2 and VP16. When the K343A substitution was inserted into the gene encoding VP16 (UL48) of the viral genome, HSV-1 replicated successfully although its growth was delayed, and final titers were reduced compared to titers of wild-type virus. Surprisingly, the mutated VP16 was incorporated into virions at levels similar to those of wild-type VP16. However, the analysis of VP16 on cytoplasmic capsids by fluorescence microscopy showed that VP16 associated with cytoplasmic capsids less efficiently when the VP16-VP1/2 interaction was inhibited. This implies that the direct interaction between VP1/2 and VP16 is important for the efficiency/timing of viral assembly but is not essential for HSV-1 replication in cell culture. These data also support the notion that the incorporation of tegument proteins into the herpesviruses is a very complex process with significant redundancy.

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