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We have shown that glycoprotein K (gK) and its interacting partner, the UL20 protein, play crucial roles in virion envelopment. Specifically, virions lacking either gK or UL20 fail to acquire an envelope, thus causing accumulation of capsids in the cytoplasm of infected cells. The herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) UL37 protein has also been implicated in cytoplasmic virion envelopment. To further investigate the role of UL37 in virion envelopment, the recombinant virus DC480 was constructed by insertion of a 12-amino-acid protein C (protC) epitope tag within the UL37 amino acid sequence immediately after amino acid 480. The DC480 mutant virus expressed full-size UL37 as detected by the anti-protC antibody in Western immunoblots, accumulated unenveloped capsids in the cytoplasm of infected cells, and produced very small plaques on African green monkey kidney (Vero) cells that were similar in size to those produced by the UL20-null and UL37-null viruses. The DC480 virus replicated nearly 4 log less efficiently than the parental wild-type virus when grown on Vero cells. However, DC480 mutant virus titers increased nearly 20-fold when the virus was grown on FRT cells engineered to express the UL20 gene in comparison to the titers on Vero cells, while the UL37-null virus replicated approximately 20-fold less efficiently than the DC480 virus on FRT cells. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments and proximity ligation assays showed that gK and UL20 interact with the UL37 protein in infected cells. Collectively, these results indicate that UL37 interacts with the gK-UL20 protein complex to facilitate cytoplasmic virion envelopment. © 2014, American Society for Microbiology.

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Journal of Virology

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