The herpes simplex virus gE-gI complex facilitates cell-to-cell spread and binds to components of cell junctions

Kevin S. Dingwell, David C. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


The herpes simplex virus (HSV) glycoprotein complex gE-gI mediates the spread of viruses between adjacent cells, and this property is especially evident for cells that form extensive cell junctions, e.g., epithelial cells, fibroblasts, and neurons. Mutants lacking gE or gI are not compromised in their ability to enter cells as extracellular viruses. Therefore, gE-gI functions specifically in the movement of virus across cell-cell contacts and, as such, provides a molecular handle on this poorly understood process. We expressed gE-gI in human epithelial cells by using replication-defective adenovirus (Ad) vectors. gE-gI accumulated at lateral surfaces of the epithelial cells, colocalizing with the adherens junction protein β-catenin but was not found on either the apical or basal plasma membranes and did not colocalize with ZO-1, a component of tight junctions. In subconfluent monolayers, gE-gI was found at cell junctions but was absent from those lateral surfaces not in contact with another cell, as was the case for β- catenin. Similar localization of gE-gI to cell junctions was observed in HSV- infected epithelial cells. By contrast, HSV glycoprotein gD, expressed using a recombinant Ad vectors, was found primarily along the apical surfaces of cells, with little or no protein found on the basal or lateral surfaces. Expression of gE-gI without other HSV polypeptides did not cause redistribution of either ZO-1 or β-catenin or alter tight-junction functions. Together these results support a model in which gE-gI accumulates at sites of cell-cell contact by interacting with junctional components. We hypothesize that gE-gI mediates transfer of HSV across cell junctions by virtue of these interactions with cell junction components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8933-8942
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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