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mBio. 2013 Jan 22;4(1):e00571-12. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00571-12.

Modulation of Epstein-Barr virus glycoprotein B (gB) fusion activity by the gB cytoplasmic tail domain.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), along with other members of the herpesvirus family, requires a set of viral glycoproteins to mediate host cell attachment and entry. Viral glycoprotein B (gB), a highly conserved glycoprotein within the herpesvirus family, is thought to be the viral fusogen based on structural comparison of EBV gB and herpes simplex virus (HSV) gB with the postfusion crystal structure of vesicular stomatitis virus fusion protein glycoprotein G (VSV-G). In addition, mutational studies indicate that gB plays an important role in fusion function. In the current study, we constructed a comprehensive library of mutants with truncations of the C-terminal cytoplasmic tail domain (CTD) of EBV gB. Our studies indicate that the gB CTD is important in the cellular localization, expression, and fusion function of EBV gB. However, in line with observations from other studies, we conclude that the degree of cell surface expression of gB is not directly proportional to observed fusion phenotypes. Rather, we conclude that other biochemical or biophysical properties of EBV gB must be altered to explain the different fusion phenotypes observed.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), like all enveloped viruses, fuses the virion envelope to a cellular membrane to allow release of the capsid, resulting in virus infection. To further characterize the function of EBV glycoprotein B (gB) in fusion, a comprehensive library of mutants with truncations in the gB C-terminal cytoplasmic tail domain (CTD) were made. These studies indicate that the CTD of gB is important for the cellular expression and localization of gB, as well as for the function of gB in fusion. These studies will lead to a better understanding of the mechanism of EBV-induced membrane fusion and herpesvirus-induced membrane fusion in general, which will ultimately lead to focused therapies guided at preventing viral entry into host cells.

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