Herpes simplex virus 1 glycoprotein M and the membrane-associated protein UL11 are required for virus-induced cell fusion and efficient virus entry

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Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) facilitates virus entry into cells and cell-to-cell spread by mediating fusion of the viral envelope with cellular membranes and fusion of adjacent cellular membranes. Although virus strains isolated from herpetic lesions cause limited cell fusion in cell culture, clinical herpetic lesions typically contain large syncytia, underscoring the importance of cell-to-cell fusion in virus spread in infected tissues. Certain mutations in glycoprotein B (gB), gK, UL20, and other viral genes drastically enhance virus-induced cell fusion in vitro and in vivo. Recent work has suggested that gB is the sole fusogenic glycoprotein, regulated by interactions with the viral glycoproteins gD, gH/gL, and gK, membrane protein UL20, and cellular receptors. Recombinant viruses were constructed to abolish either gM or UL11 expression in the presence of strong syncytial mutations in either gB or gK. Virus-induced cell fusion caused by deletion of the carboxyl-terminal 28 amino acids of gB or the dominant syncytial mutation in gK (Ala to Val at amino acid 40) was drastically reduced in the absence of gM. Similarly, syncytial mutations in either gB or gK did not cause cell fusion in the absence of UL11. Neither the gM nor UL11 gene deletion substantially affected gB, gC, gD, gE, and gH glycoprotein synthesis and expression on infected cell surfaces. Two-way immunoprecipitation experiments revealed that the membrane protein UL20, which is found as a protein complex with gK, interacted with gM while gM did not interact with other viral glycoproteins. Viruses produced in the absence of gM or UL11 entered into cells more slowly than their parental wild-type virus strain. Collectively, these results indicate that gM and UL11 are required for efficient membrane fusion events during virus entry and virus spread.

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Journal of virology

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