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J Virol. 2000 Nov;74(21):10041-54.

Assembly of infectious Herpes simplex virus type 1 virions in the absence of full-length VP22.

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Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


VP22, the 301-amino-acid phosphoprotein product of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) U(L)49 gene, is incorporated into the tegument during virus assembly. We previously showed that highly modified forms of VP22 are restricted to infected cell nuclei (L. E. Pomeranz and J. A. Blaho, J. Virol. 73:6769-6781, 1999). VP22 packaged into infectious virions appears undermodified, and nuclear- and virion-associated forms are easily differentiated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (J. A. Blaho, C. Mitchell, and B. Roizman, J. Biol. Chem. 269:17401-17410, 1994). As VP22 packaging-associated undermodification is unique among HSV-1 tegument proteins, we sought to determine the role of VP22 during viral replication. We now show the following. (i) VP22 modification occurs in the absence of other viral factors in cell lines which stably express its gene. (ii) RF177, a recombinant HSV-1 strain generated for this study, synthesizes only the amino-terminal 212 amino acids of VP22 (Delta212). (iii) Delta212 localizes to the nucleus and incorporates into virions during RF177 infection of Vero cells. Thus, the carboxy-terminal region is not required for nuclear localization of VP22. (iv) RF177 synthesizes the tegument proteins VP13/14, VP16, and VHS (virus host shutoff) and incorporates them into infectious virions as efficiently as wild-type virus. However, (v) the loss of VP22 in RF177 virus particles is compensated for by a redistribution of minor virion components. (vi) Mature RF177 virions are identical to wild-type particles based on electron microscopic analyses. (vii) Single-step growth kinetics of RF177 in Vero cells are essentially identical to those of wild-type virus. (viii) RF177 plaque size is reduced by nearly 40% compared to wild-type virus. Based on these results, we conclude that VP22 is not required for tegument formation, virion assembly/maturation, or productive HSV-1 replication, while the presence of full-length VP22 in the tegument is needed for efficient virus spread in Vero cell monolayers.

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