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J Virol. 2013 May;87(9):4895-906. doi: 10.1128/JVI.03292-12. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Analysis of the early steps of herpes simplex virus 1 capsid tegumentation.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Herpes simplex virus type 1 particles are multilayered structures with a DNA genome surrounded by a capsid, tegument, and envelope. While the protein content of mature virions is known, the sequence of addition of the tegument and the intracellular compartments where this occurs are intensely debated. To probe this process during the initial stages of egress, we used two approaches: an in vitro nuclear egress assay, which reconstitutes the exit of nuclear capsids to the cytoplasm, and a classical nuclear capsid sedimentation assay. As anticipated, in vitro cytoplasmic capsids did not harbor UL34, UL31, or viral glycoproteins but contained US3. In agreement with previous findings, both nuclear and in vitro capsids were positive for ICP0 and ICP4. Unexpectedly, nuclear C capsids and cytoplasmic capsids produced in vitro without any cytosolic viral proteins also scored positive for UL36 and UL37. Immunoelectron microscopy confirmed that these tegument proteins were closely associated with nuclear capsids. When cytosolic viral proteins were present in the in vitro assay, no additional tegument proteins were detected on the capsids. As previously reported, the tegument was sensitive to high-salt extraction but, surprisingly, was stabilized by exogenous proteins. Finally, some tegument proteins seemed partially lost during egress, while others possibly were added at multiple steps or modified along the way. Overall, an emerging picture hints at the early coating of capsids with up to 5 tegument proteins at the nuclear stage, the shedding of some viral proteins during nuclear egress, and the acquisition of others tegument proteins during reenvelopment.

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