Phenylalanine residues at the carboxyl terminus of the herpes simplex virus 1 UL20 membrane protein regulate cytoplasmic virion envelopment and infectious virus production

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The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) UL20 gene encodes a 222-amino-acid nonglycosylated envelope protein which forms a complex with viral glycoprotein K (gK) that functions in virion envelopment, egress, and virus-induced cell fusion. To investigate the role of the carboxyl terminus of the UL20 protein (UL20p) in cytoplasmic virion envelopment, a cadre of mutant viruses was constructed and characterized. The deletion of six amino acids from the carboxyl terminus of UL20p caused an approximately 1-log reduction in infectious virus production compared to that of the wild-type virus. Surprisingly, a phenylalanine-toalanine replacement at amino acid position 210 caused a gain-of-function phenotype, increasing infectious virus production up to 1 log more than in the wild-type virus. In contrast, the replacement of two membrane-proximal phenylalanines with alanines caused drastic inhibition of infectious virion production and cytoplasmic virion envelopment. Prediction of the membrane topology of UL20p revealed that these two amino acid changes cause retraction of the carboxyl terminus of UL20p from the intracellular space. Confocal microscopy revealed that none of the engineered UL20 mutations affected intracellular transport of UL20p to trans-Golgi network membranes. In addition, a proximity ligation assay showed that none of the UL20 mutations affected UL20p colocalization and potential interactions with the UL37 protein recently found to interact with the gK/UL20 protein complex. Collectively, these studies show that phenylalanine residues within the carboxyl terminus of UL20p are involved in the regulation of cytoplasmic virion envelopment and infectious virus production. © 2014, American Society for Microbiology.

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Journal of Virology

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