The herpes simplex virus UL20 protein functions in glycoprotein K (gK) intracellular transport and virus-induced cell fusion are independent of UL20 functions in cytoplasmic virion envelopment

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The HSV-1 UL20 protein (UL20p) and glycoprotein K (gK) are both important determinants of cytoplasmic virion morphogenesis and virus-induced cell fusion. In this manuscript, we examined the effect of UL20 mutations on the coordinate transport and Trans Golgi Network (TGN) localization of UL20p and gK, virus-induced cell fusion and infectious virus production. Deletion of 18 amino acids from the UL20p carboxyl terminus (UL20 mutant 204t) inhibited intracellular transport and cell-surface expression of both gK and UL20, resulting in accumulation of UL20p and gK in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in agreement with the inability of 204t to complement UL20-null virus replication and virus-induced cell fusion. In contrast, less severe carboxyl terminal deletions of either 11 or six amino acids (UL20 mutants 211t and 216t, respectively) allowed efficient UL20p and gK intracellular transport, cell-surface expression and TGN colocalization. However, while both 211t and 216t failed to complement for infectious virus production, 216t complemented for virus-induced cell fusion, but 211t did not. These results indicated that the carboxyl terminal six amino acids of UL20p were crucial for infectious virus production, but not involved in intracellular localization of UL20p/gK and concomitant virus-induced cell fusion. In the amino terminus of UL20, UL20p mutants were produced changing one or both of the Y38 and Y49 residues found within putative phosphorylation sites. UL20p tyrosine-modified mutants with both tyrosine residues changed enabled efficient intracellular transport and TGN localization of UL20p and gK, but failed to complement for either infectious virus production, or virus-induced cell fusion. These results show that UL20p functions in cytoplasmic envelopment are separable from UL20 functions in UL20p intracellular transport, cell surface expression and virus-induced cell fusion.

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Virology journal

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