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J Virol. 1997 Sep;71(9):6913-20.

Varicella-zoster virus glycoprotein I is essential for growth of virus in Vero cells.

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Medical Virology Section, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) encodes at least six glycoproteins. Glycoprotein I (gI), the product of open reading frame 67, is a 58- to 62-kDa glycoprotein found in VZV-infected cells. We constructed two VZV gI deletion mutants. Immunoprecipitation of VZV gE from infected cells indicated that cells infected with VZV deleted for gI expressed a gE that was larger (100 kDa) than that expressed in cells infected with the parental virus (98 kDa). Cell-associated or cell-free VZV deleted for gI grew to lower titers in melanoma cells than did parental VZV. While VZV deleted for gI replicated in other human cells, the mutant virus replicated to very low titers in primary guinea pig and monkey cells and did not replicate in Vero cells. When compared with the parental virus, rescued viruses, in which the gI deletion was restored with a wild-type allele, showed a similarly sized gE and comparable growth patterns in melanoma and Vero cells. VZV deleted for gI entered Vero cells; however, viral DNA synthesis was impaired in these cells. The VZV gI mutant was slightly impaired for adsorption to human cells. Thus, VZV gI is required for replication of the virus in Vero cells, for efficient replication of the virus in nonhuman cells, and for normal processing of gE.

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