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© 2012 Chowdhury et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Background: Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) enters into cells via membrane fusion of the viral envelope with plasma or endosomal membranes mediated by viral glycoproteins. HSV-1 virions attach to cell surfaces by binding of viral glycoproteins gC, gD and gB to specific cellular receptors. Here we show that the human ocular and highly neurovirulent HSV-1 strain McKrae enters substantially more efficiently into cells via the gB-specific human paired immunoglobulin-like type-2 receptor-a (hPILR-α). Comparison of the predicted amino acid sequences between HSV-1(F) and McKrae strains indicates that amino acid changes within gB, gC, gH and gL may cause increased entry via the hPILR-α a receptor. Results: HSV-1 (McKrae) entered substantially more efficiently than viral strain F in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells expressing hPIRL-α but not within CHO-human nectin-1, -(CHO-hNectin-1), CHO-human HVEM (CHO-hHVEM) or Vero cells. The McKrae genes encoding viral glycoproteins gB, gC, gD, gH, gL, gK and the membrane protein UL20 were sequenced and their predicted amino acid (aa) sequences were compared with virulent strains F, H129, and the attenuated laboratory strain KOS. Most aa differences between McKrae and F were located at their gB amino termini known to bind with the PILRa receptor. These aa changes included a C10R change, also seen in the neurovirulent strain ANG, as well as redistribution and increase of proline residues. Comparison of gC aa sequences revealed multiple aa changes including an L132P change within the 129-247 aa region known to bind to heparan sulfate (HS) receptors. Two aa changes were located within the H1 domain of gH that binds gL. Multiple aa changes were located within the McKrae gL sequence, which were preserved in the H129 isolate, but differed for the F strain. Viral glycoproteins gD and gK and the membrane protein UL20 were conserved between McKrae and F strains. Conclusions: The results indicate that the observed entry phenotype of the McKrae strain is most likely due to a combination of increased binding to heparan sulfate receptors and enhanced virus entry via gB-mediated fusion of the viral envelope with plasma membranes.

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Virology Journal