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J Virol. 2018 Aug 29;92(18). pii: e00821-18. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00821-18. Print 2018 Sep 15.

The Apical Region of the Herpes Simplex Virus Major Capsid Protein Promotes Capsid Maturation.

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Department of Microbiology-Immunology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Department of Structural Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Department of Microbiology-Immunology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA


The herpesvirus capsid assembles in the nucleus as an immature procapsid precursor built around viral scaffold proteins. The event that initiates procapsid maturation is unknown, but it is dependent upon activation of the VP24 internal protease. Scaffold cleavage triggers angularization of the shell and its decoration with the VP26 and pUL25 capsid-surface proteins. In both the procapsid and mature angularized capsid, the apical region of the major capsid protein (VP5) is surface exposed. We investigated whether the VP5 apical region contributes to intracellular transport dynamics following entry into primary sensory neurons and also tested the hypothesis that conserved negatively charged amino acids in the apical region contribute to VP26 acquisition. To our surprise, neither hypothesis proved true. Instead, mutation of glutamic acid residues in the apical region delayed viral propagation and induced focal capsid accumulations in nuclei. Examination of capsid morphogenesis based on epitope unmasking, capsid composition, and ultrastructural analysis indicated that these clusters consisted of procapsids. The results demonstrate that, in addition to established events that occur inside the capsid, the exterior capsid shell promotes capsid morphogenesis and maturation.IMPORTANCE Herpesviruses assemble capsids and encapsidate their genomes by a process that is unlike those of other mammalian viruses but is similar to those of some bacteriophage. Many important aspects of herpesvirus morphogenesis remain enigmatic, including how the capsid shell matures into a stable angularized configuration. Capsid maturation is triggered by activation of a protease that cleaves an internal protein scaffold. We report on the fortuitous discovery that a region of the major capsid protein that is exposed on the outer surface of the capsid also contributes to capsid maturation, demonstrating that the morphogenesis of the capsid shell from its procapsid precursor to the mature angularized form is dependent upon internal and external components of the megastructure.


HSV-1; VP5; VP5 apical region; assembly; axon transport; capsid; herpes simplex virus; herpesvirus; major capsid protein; maturation; microscopy; procapsid

[Available on 2019-02-28]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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