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Virology. 2007 Aug 15;365(1):157-65. Epub 2007 May 2.

Functional homology of gHs and gLs from EBV-related gamma-herpesviruses for EBV-induced membrane fusion.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Ward 6-231, 303 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a human gamma-herpesvirus that primarily infects B lymphocytes and epithelial cells. Entry of EBV into B cells requires the viral glycoproteins gp42, gH/gL and gB, while gp42 is not necessary for infection of epithelial cells. In EBV, gH and gL form two distinct complexes, a bipartite complex that contains only gH and gL, used for infection of epithelial cells, and a tripartite complex that additionally includes gp42, used for infection of B cells. The gH/gL complex is conserved within the herpesvirus family, but its exact role in entry and mechanism of fusion is not yet known. To understand more about the functionality of EBVgH/gL, we investigated the functional homology of gHs and gLs from human herpesvirus 8 (HHV8) and two primate (rhesus and marmoset) gamma-herpesviruses in EBV-mediated virus-free cell fusion assay. Overall, gHs and gLs from the more homologous primate herpesviruses were better at complementing EBV gH and gL in fusion than HHV8 gH and gL. Interestingly, marmoset gH was able to complement fusion with epithelial cells, but not B cells. Further investigation of this led to the discovery that EBVgH is the binding partner of gp42 in the tripartite complex and the absence of fusion with B cells in the presence of marmoset gH/gL is due to its inability to bind gp42.

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