Herpes simplex virus glycoprotein K promotes egress of virus particles

Lloyd Hutchinson, David C. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) glycoprotein K (gK) is thought to be intimately involved in the process by which infected cells fuse because BSV syncytial mutations frequently alter the gK (UL53) gene. Previously, we characterized gK produced in cells infected with wild-type BSV or syncytial HSV mutants and found that the glycoprotein was localized to nuclear and endoplasmic reticulum membranes and did not reach the cell surface (L. Hutchinson, C. Roop, and D. C. Johnson, .J. Virol. 69:4556-4563, 1995). In this study, we have characterized a mutant BSV type 1, denoted F-gKβ in which lacZ gene cassette was inserted into the gK coding sequences. Since gK was found to be essential for virus replication, F-gKβ was propagated on complementing cells which can express gK. F-gKβ produced normal plaques bounded by nonfused cells when plated on complementing cells, although syncytia were observed when the cells produced smaller amounts of gK. In contrast, F-gKβ produced only microscopic plaques on Vero cells and normal human fibroblasts (which do not express gK) and these plaques were reduced by 102 to 106 in number. Further, large numbers of nonenveloped capsids accumulated in the cytoplasm of F-gKβ-infected Vero cells, virus particles did not reach the cell surface, and the few enveloped particles that were produced exhibited a reduced capacity to enter cells and initiate an infection of complementing cells. Overexpression of gK in HSV-infected cells also caused defects in virus egress, although particles accumulated in the perinuclear space and large multilamellar membranous structures juxtaposed with the nuclear envelope were observed. Together, these results demonstrate that gK regulates or facilitates egress of HSV from cells. How this property is connected to cell fusion is not clear. In this regard, gK may alter cell surface transport of viral particles or other viral components directly involved in the fusion process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5401-5413
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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