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Dual Function of the pUL7-pUL51 Tegument Protein Complex in Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Infection

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Albecka, A 
Owen, DJ 
Ivanova, L 
Brun, J 
Liman, R 


The tegument of herpesviruses is a highly complex structural layer between the nucleocapsid and the envelope of virions. Tegument proteins play both structural and regulatory functions during replication and spread, but the interactions and functions of many of these proteins are poorly understood. Here we focus on two tegument proteins from herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), pUL7 and pUL51, which have homologues in all other herpesviruses. We have now identified that HSV-1 pUL7 and pUL51 form a stable and direct protein-protein interaction, their expression levels rely on the presence of each other, and they function as a complex in infected cells. We demonstrate that expression of the pUL7-pUL51 complex is important for efficient HSV-1 assembly and plaque formation. Furthermore, we also discovered that the pUL7-pUL51 complex localizes to focal adhesions at the plasma membrane in both infected cells and in the absence of other viral proteins. The expression of pUL7-pUL51 is important to stabilize focal adhesions and maintain cell morphology in infected cells and cells infected with viruses lacking pUL7 and/or pUL51 round up more rapidly than cells infected with wild-type HSV-1. Our data suggest that, in addition to the previously reported functions in virus assembly and spread for pUL51, the pUL7-pUL51 complex is important for maintaining the attachment of infected cells to their surroundings through modulating the activity of focal adhesion complexes.

IMPORTANCE: The Herpesviridae  is a large family of highly successful human and animal pathogens. Virions of these viruses are composed of many different proteins, most of which are contained within the tegument, a complex structural layer between the nucleocapsid and the envelope within virus particles. Tegument proteins have important roles in assembling virus particles as well as modifying host cells to promote virus replication and spread. However, little is known about the function of many tegument proteins during virus replication. Our study focuses on two tegument proteins from herpes simplex virus 1 that are conserved in all herpesviruses: pUL7 and pUL51. We demonstrate that these proteins directly interact and form a functional complex that is important for both virus assembly and modulation of host cell morphology. Further, we identify for the first time that these conserved herpesvirus tegument proteins localize to focal adhesions in addition to cytoplasmic juxtanuclear membranes within infected cells.



UL51, UL7, focal adhesion, herpes simplex virus, human herpesviruses, tegument

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Journal of Virology

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American Society for Microbiology
Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2012-793)
The Royal Society (uf090010)
Wellcome Trust (098406/Z/12/Z)
Wellcome Trust (086158/Z/08/Z)
This work was supported by the Leverhulme Trust (grant RPG-2012-793 to C.M.C.), the Royal Society (University Research Fellowship UF090010 to C.M.C.), and the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust (Sir Henry Dale Fellowship 098406/Z/12/Z to S.C.G.). L.D. was supported by Wellcome Trust Ph.D. Programme funding (086158/Z/08/Z). D.J.O. was supported by a John Lucas Walker studentship. M.F.A. was supported by a Commonwealth Scholarship Commission PhD scholarship (BDCA-2014-7).