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J Virol. 2010 May;84(10):4923-35. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00206-10. Epub 2010 Mar 3.

Syncytial phenotype of C-terminally truncated herpes simplex virus type 1 gB is associated with diminished membrane interactions.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111 , USA.


The cytoplasmic domain of glycoprotein B (gB) from herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is an important regulator of membrane fusion. C-terminal truncations of the cytoplasmic domain lead to either hyperfusion or fusion-null phenotypes. Currently, neither the structure of the cytoplasmic domain nor its mechanism of fusion regulation is known. Here we show, for the first time, that the full-length cytoplasmic domain of HSV-1 gB associates stably with lipid membranes, preferentially binding to membranes containing anionic head groups. This interaction involves a large increase in helical content. However, the truncated cytoplasmic domains associated with the hyperfusion phenotype show a small increase in helical structure and a diminished association with lipid membranes, whereas the one associated with the fusion-null phenotype shows no increase in helical structure and only a minimal association with lipid membranes. We hypothesize that stable binding to lipid membranes is an important part of the mechanism by which the cytoplasmic domain negatively regulates membrane fusion. Moreover, our experiments with truncated cytoplasmic domains point to two specific regions that are critical for membrane interactions. Taken together, our work provides several important new insights into the architecture of the cytoplasmic domain of HSV-1 gB and its interaction with lipid membranes.

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