Document Type


Publication Date



© 2016, American Society for Microbiology. We have shown previously that herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) lacking expression of the entire glycoprotein K (gK) or expressing gK with a 38-amino-acid deletion (gKΔ31-68 mutation) failed to infect ganglionic neurons after ocular infection of mice. We constructed a new model for the predicted three-dimensional structure of gK, revealing that the gKΔ31-68 mutation spans a well-defined β-sheet structure within the amino terminus of gK, which is conserved among alphaherpesviruses. The HSV- 1(McKrae) gKΔ31-68 virus was tested for the ability to enter into ganglionic neuronal axons in cell culture of explanted rat ganglia using a novel virus entry proximity ligation assay (VEPLA). In this assay, cell surface-bound virions were detected by the colocalization of gD and its cognate receptor nectin-1 on infected neuronal surfaces. Capsids that have entered into the cytoplasm were detected by the colocalization of the virion tegument protein UL37, with dynein required for loading of virion capsids onto microtubules for retrograde transport to the nucleus. HSV-1(McKrae) gKΔ31-68 attached to cell surfaces of Vero cells and ganglionic axons in cell culture as efficiently as wild-type HSV-1(McKrae). However, unlike the wild-type virus, the mutant virus failed to enter into the axoplasm of ganglionic neurons. This work suggests that the amino terminus of gK is a critical determinant for entry into neuronal axons and may serve similar conserved functions for other alphaherpesviruses.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Journal of Virology

First Page


Last Page