The Absence of DHHC3 Affects Primary and Latent Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Infection

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UL20, an essential herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) protein, is involved in cytoplasmic envelopment of virions and virus egress. We reported recently that UL20 can bind to a host protein encoded by the zinc finger DHHC-type containing 3 () gene (also known as Golgi-specific DHHC zinc finger protein [GODZ]). Here, we show for the first time that HSV-1 replication is compromised in murine embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) isolated from GODZ mice. The absence of GODZ resulted in blocking palmitoylation of UL20 and altered localization and expression of UL20 and glycoprotein K (gK); the expression of gB and gC; and the localization and expression of tegument and capsid proteins within HSV-1-infected MEFs. Electron microscopy revealed that the absence of GODZ limited the maturation of virions at multiple steps and affected the localization of virus and endoplasmic reticulum morphology. Virus replication in the eyes of ocularly HSV-1-infected GODZ mice was significantly lower than in HSV-1-infected wild-type (WT) mice. The levels of UL20, gK, and gB transcripts in the corneas of HSV-1-infected GODZ mice on day 5 postinfection were markedly lower than in WT mice, whereas only UL20 transcripts were reduced in trigeminal ganglia (TG). In addition, HSV-1-infected GODZ mice showed notably lower levels of corneal scarring, and HSV-1 latency reactivation was also reduced. Thus, normal HSV-1 infectivity and viral pathogenesis are critically dependent on GODZ-mediated palmitoylation of viral UL20. HSV-1 infection is widespread. Ocular infection can cause corneal blindness; however, approximately 70 to 90% of American adults exposed to the virus show no clinical symptoms. In this study, we show for the first time that the absence of a zinc finger protein called GODZ affects primary and latent infection, as well as reactivation, in ocularly infected mice. The reduced virus infectivity is due to the absence of the GODZ interaction with HSV-1 UL20. These results strongly suggest that binding of UL20 to GODZ promotes virus infectivity and viral pathogenesis .

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Journal of virology

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