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Virology. 1997 Feb 17;228(2):229-35.

Structure of the herpes simplex virus capsid: peptide A862-H880 of the major capsid protein is displayed on the rim of the capsomer protrusions.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville 22908, USA.


The herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) capsid shell has 162 capsomers arranged on a T = 16 icosahedral lattice. The major capsid protein, VP5 MW = 149,075) is the structural component of the capsomers. VP5 is an unusually large viral capsid protein and has been shown to consist of multiple domains. To study the conformation of VP5 as it is folded into capsid promoters, we identified the sequence recognized by a VP5-specific monoclonal antibody and localized the epitope on the capsid surface by cryoelectron microscopy and image reconstruction. The epitope of mAb 6F10 was mapped to residues 862-880 by immunoblotting experiments performed with (1) proteolytic fragments of VP5, (2) GST-fusion proteins containing VP5 domains, and (3) synthetic VP5 peptides. As visualized in a three-dimensional density map of 6F10-precipitated capsids, the antibody was found to bind at sites on the outer surface of the capsid just inside the openings of the trans-capsomeric channels. We conclude that these sites are occupied by peptide 862-880 in the mature HSV-1 capsid.

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