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J Virol. 2012 Aug;86(15):8171-84. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00932-12. Epub 2012 May 23.

Membrane requirement for folding of the herpes simplex virus 1 gB cytodomain suggests a unique mechanism of fusion regulation.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology and Graduate Program in Molecular Microbiology, Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) enters cells by fusion of its envelope with a host cell membrane, which requires four viral glycoproteins and a cellular receptor. Viral fusion glycoprotein B (gB) mediates membrane fusion through the action of its ectodomain, while its cytoplasmic domain (cytodomain) regulates fusion from the opposite face of the membrane by an unknown mechanism. The gB cytodomain appears to restrict fusion, because point or truncation mutations within it increase the extent of fusion (syn mutations). Previously, we showed that the hyperfusion phenotype correlated with reduced membrane binding in gB syn truncation mutants and proposed that membrane binding was important in regulating fusion. Here, we extended our analysis to three syn point mutants: A855V, R858H, and A874P. These mutations produce local conformational changes, with some affecting membrane interaction, which suggests that while syn mutants may deregulate fusion by somewhat different mechanisms, maintaining the wild-type (WT) conformation is critical for fusion regulation. We further show that the presence of a membrane is necessary for the cytodomain to achieve its fully folded conformation and propose that the membrane-bound form of the cytodomain represents its native conformation. Taken together, our data suggest that the cytodomain of gB regulates fusion by a novel mechanism in which membrane interaction plays a key role.

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