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Multiple amino acid changes within herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) gB and gK cause extensive virus-induced cell fusion and the formation of multinucleated cells (syncytia). Early reports established that syncytial mutations in gK could not cause cell-to-cell fusion in the absence of gB. To investigate the interdependence of gB, gK, and UL20p in virus-induced cell fusion and virion de-envelopment from perinuclear spaces as well as to compare the ultrastructural phenotypes of the different mutant viruses in a syngeneic HSV-1 (F) genetic background, gB-null, gK-null, UL20-null, gB/gK double-null, and gB/UL20 double-null viruses were constructed with the HSV-1 (F) bacterial artificial chromosome pYEBac102. The gK/gB double-null virus YEbacΔgBΔgK was used to isolate the recombinant viruses gBsyn3ΔgK and gBamb1511ΔgK, which lack the gK gene and carry the gBsyn3 or gBamb1511 syncytial mutation, respectively. Both viruses formed small nonsyncytial plaques on noncomplementing Vero cells and large syncytial plaques on gK-complementing cells, indicating that gK expression was necessary for gBsyn3- and gBamb1511-induced cell fusion. Lack of virus-induced cell fusion was not due to defects in virion egress, since recombinant viruses specifying the gBsyn3 or gKsyn20 mutation in the UL19/UL20 double-null genetic background caused extensive cell fusion on UL20-complementing cells. As expected, the gB-null virus failed to produce infectious virus, but enveloped virion particles egressed efficiently out of infected cells. The gK-null and UL20-null viruses exhibited cytoplasmic defects in virion morphogenesis like those of the corresponding HSV-1 (KOS) mutant viruses. Similarly, the gB/gK double-null and gB/UL20 double-null viruses accumulated capsids in the cytoplasm, indicating that gB, gK, and UL20p do not function redundantly in membrane fusion during virion de-envelopment at the outer nuclear lamellae.

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Journal of Virology

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