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J Virol. 2007 Dec;81(23):13028-36. Epub 2007 Sep 12.

Dynamic interactions of the UL16 tegument protein with the capsid of herpes simplex virus.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, 500 University Drive, P.O. Box 850, Hershey, PA 17036, USA.


The UL16 tegument protein of herpes simplex virus is conserved throughout the herpesvirus family. It has been reported to be capsid associated and may be involved in budding by providing an interaction with the membrane-bound UL11 protein. UL16 has been shown to be present in all the major locations that capsids are found (i.e., the nucleus, cytoplasm, and virions), but whether it is actually capsid associated in each of these has not been reported. Therefore, capsids were purified from each compartment, and it was found that UL16 was present on cytoplasmic but not nuclear capsids. In extracellular virions, the majority of UL16 (87%) was once again not capsid associated, which suggests that the interaction is transient during egress. Because herpes simplex virus (HSV) buds into the acidic compartment of the trans-Golgi network (TGN), the effect of pH on the interaction was examined. The amount of capsid-associated UL16 dramatically increased when extracellular virions were exposed to mildly acidic medium (pH 5.0 to 5.5), and this association was fully reversible. After budding into the TGN, capsid and tegument proteins also encounter an oxidizing environment, which is conducive to disulfide bond formation. UL16 contains 20 cysteines, including five that are conserved within a putative zinc finger. Any free cysteines that are involved in the capsid interaction or release mechanism of UL16 would be expected to be modified by N-ethylmaleimide, and, consistent with this, the amount of capsid-associated UL16 dramatically increased when virions were incubated with this compound. Taken together, these data suggest a transient interaction between UL16 and capsids, possibly modified in the acidic compartment of secretory vesicles and requiring a release mechanism that involves cysteines.

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