Direct and specific binding of the UL16 tegument protein of herpes simplex virus to the cytoplasmic tail of glycoprotein E

Pei Chun Yeh, Jun Han, Pooja Chadha, David G. Meckes, Michael D. Ward, O. John Semmes, John W. Wills

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The UL16 tegument protein of herpes simplex virus (HSV) is conserved throughout all of the herpesvirus families. Previous studies have shown that the binding of HSV to heparan sulfate molecules on the host cell triggers the release of UL16 from the capsid, but the mechanism by which the signal is sent from the virion surface into the tegument is unknown. Here, we report that a glutathione S-transferase chimera bearing the cytoplasmic tail of viral glycoprotein E (gE) is capable of binding to UL16 in lysates of eukaryotic cells or purified from bacteria. Moreover, mass spectrometry studies of native-UL16 complexes purified from infected cells also revealed the presence of gE. Proof that UL16-gE can interact within cells required the fortuitous discovery of a mutant possessing only the first 155 residues of UL16. Confocal microscopy of cotransfected cells revealed that this mutant colocalized with gE in the cytoplasm, whereas it was found throughout the cytoplasm and nucleus when expressed alone. In contrast, the full-length UL16 molecule was very poorly capable of finding gE. Moreover, membrane flotation assays showed that UL16(1-155) was able to float to the top of sucrose step gradients when coexpressed with gE, whereas full-length UL16 was not. Thus, the discovery of the UL16(1-155) mutant confirmed the specific in vitro interaction with gE and provides evidence that a binding domain at the N terminus of UL16 may be controlled by a regulatory domain within the C terminus. These findings suggest the possibility that the UL16-gE interaction may play roles in the tegument signaling mechanism, virus budding, and the gE-mediated mechanism of cell-to-cell spread.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9425-9436
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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