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Arch Virol. 1996;141(3-4):505-24.

Intra-nuclear localization of two envelope proteins, gB and gD, of herpes simplex virus.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Cape Town, Observatory, South Africa.


The envelopes of herpes simplex virus (HSV) particles are acquired from the inner nuclear membrane (INM) of the infected cell and virus-coded glycoproteins are present in the envelope of mature virions. Our ultrastructural study examined the process of virus envelopment and the targeting of two major viral glycoproteins, gB and gD, to the INM in HSV-infected human embryonic fibroblasts. It was shown that envelopment and transport of virus particles from the nucleus is facilitated by the formation of a dynamic tubulo-reticulum arising from the INM. Capsids were assembled in the nucleus and collected within INM tubules which protruded into the perinuclear space and thence into the cisternae of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Envelopment occurred by constriction and fusion of the tubular channel walls, releasing enveloped virions into the ER. Transport to the cell surface took place in membrane-bound compartments and probably followed the normal secretory pathway through the Golgi apparatus. Immunogold probes, tagged with specific monoclonal antibodies, were used to localize gB and gD during the process of virus maturation. Cytoplasmic membranes were not labelled, but probes bound inside the nucleus, mainly at sites of virus assembly. Labelling occurred on the nucleoplasmic side of the INM which surrounded capsids in the process of envelopment, but not on the outside of that membrane, although characteristic gB glycoprotein spikes were labelled on the envelopes of extracellular virus particles and on virions in trans-Golgi transport vesicles just prior to their release from the infected cell. gB was not detected on the surface of enveloped virions in the perinuclear space, or the cisternae of the ER or cis-Golgi, which suggests that the specific epitope was masked during that stage of intracellular processing. gD probes bound to virion envelopes and also to the tegument region of some particles found in both perinuclear and extracellular sites. We postulate the precursor core proteins for both gB and gD are transported first to the nucleus, and then, together with maturing capsids, are targeted to the INM, and later inserted into viral envelopes at the site of budding. Post-translational glycosylation of envelope proteins could occur as virus particles exit the nucleus and travel through the ER and Golgi compartments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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