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PLoS Pathog. 2013;9(10):e1003695. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003695. Epub 2013 Oct 10.

The differential mobilization of histones H3.1 and H3.3 by herpes simplex virus 1 relates histone dynamics to the assembly of viral chromatin.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


During lytic infections, HSV-1 genomes are assembled into unstable nucleosomes. The histones required for HSV-1 chromatin assembly, however, are in the cellular chromatin. We have shown that linker (H1) and core (H2B and H4) histones are mobilized during HSV-1 infection, and proposed that the mobilized histones are available for assembly into viral chromatin. However, the actual relevance of histone mobilization remained unknown. We now show that canonical H3.1 and variant H3.3 are also mobilized during HSV-1 infection. Mobilization required no HSV-1 protein expression, although immediate early or early proteins enhanced it. We used the previously known differential association of H3.3 and H3.1 with HSV-1 DNA to test the relevance of histone mobilization. H3.3 binds to HSV-1 genomes first, whereas H3.1 only binds after HSV-1 DNA replication initiates. Consistently, H3.3 and H3.1 were differentially mobilized. H3.1 mobilization decreased with HSV-1 DNA replication, whereas H3.3 mobilization was largely unaffected by it. These results support a model in which previously mobilized H3.1 is immobilized by assembly into viral chromatin during HSV-1 DNA replication, whereas H3.3 is mobilized and assembled into HSV-1 chromatin throughout infection. The differential mobilizations of H3.3 and H3.1 are consistent with their differential assembly into viral chromatin. These data therefore relate nuclear histone dynamics to the composition of viral chromatin and provide the first evidence that histone mobilization relates to viral chromatin assembly.

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