Site-specific proteolytic cleavage of the amino terminus of herpes simplex virus glycoprotein K on virion particles inhibits virus entry

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Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) glycoprotein K (gK) is expressed on virions and functions in entry, inasmuch as HSV-1(KOS) virions devoid of gK enter cells substantially slower than is the case for the parental KOS virus (T. P. Foster, G. V. Rybachuk, and K. G. Kousoulas, J. Virol. 75:12431-12438, 2001). Deletion of the amino-terminal 68-amino-acid (aa) portion of gK caused a reduction in efficiency and kinetics of virus entry similar to that of the gK-null virus in comparison to the HSV-1(F) parental virus. The UL20 membrane protein and gK were readily detected on double-gradient-purified virion preparations. Immuno-electron microscopy confirmed the presence of gK and UL20 on purified virions. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments using purified virions revealed that gK interacted with UL20, as has been shown in virus-infected cells (T. P. Foster, V. N. Chouljenko, and K. G. Kousoulas, J. Virol. 82:6310-6323, 2008). Scanning of the HSV-1(F) viral genome revealed the presence of a single putative tobacco etch virus (TEV) protease site within gD, while additional TEV predicted sites were found within the UL5 (helicase-primase helicase subunit), UL23 (thymidine kinase), UL25 (DNA packaging tegument protein), and UL52 (helicase-primase primase subunit) proteins. The recombinant virus gDΔTEV was engineered to eliminate the single predicted gD TEV protease site without appreciably affecting its replication characteristics. The mutant virus gK-V5-TEV was subsequently constructed by insertion of a gene sequence encoding a V5 epitope tag in frame with the TEV protease site immediately after gK amino acid 68. The gK-V5-TEV, R-gK-V5-TEV (revertant virus), and gDΔTEV viruses exhibited similar plaque morphologies and replication characteristics. Treatment of the gK-V5-TEV virions with TEV protease caused approximately 32 to 34% reduction of virus entry, while treatment of gDΔTEV virions caused slightly increased virus entry. These results provide direct evidence that the gK and UL20 proteins, which are genetically and functionally linked to gB-mediated virus-induced cell fusion, are structural components of virions and function in virus entry. Site-specific cleavage of viral glycoproteins on mature and fully infectious virions utilizing unique protease sites may serve as a generalizable method of uncoupling the roles of viral glycoproteins in virus entry and virion assembly.

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Journal of virology

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