Deletion of the UL21 gene in Pseudorabies virus results in the formation of DNA-deprived capsids: an electron microscopy study

Vet Res. Jan-Feb 2001;32(1):47-54. doi: 10.1051/vetres:2001108.


We studied the morphogenesis of three pseudorabies virus mutants lacking parts of the gene homologous to the UL21 gene of the herpes simplex virus type 1. The mutants were examined in an SK-6 cell-line, in an SK-6 cell-line expressing the UL21 gene product, in porcine lung alveolar macrophages (PLAM) and in porcine nasal mucosa explants. Although on SK-6 cells and PLAM, the virus-assembly and egress of mutant virus M155, lacking almost the entire UL21 gene, was similar to that of the rescued PRV mutant, M155 producing virions containing little or no DNA (A-type particles). Virus mutants M133 and M134 (lacking 23 and 232 amino acids respectively) produced more C-type particles. In SK-6 cells stably expressing the UL21-encoded protein, all mutants produced C-type particles. All mutants produced C-type particles in nasal mucosa explants, indicating that the UL21-gene product is not essential for virus production in porcine tissue. These results support and extend previous work that indicated a role for the UL21 encoded protein in the packaging of newly replicated viral DNA.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsid / genetics*
  • Capsid / physiology*
  • Capsid / ultrastructure
  • Capsid Proteins*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA, Viral / genetics*
  • DNA, Viral / ultrastructure
  • Genes, Viral
  • Herpesvirus 1, Suid / genetics*
  • Herpesvirus 1, Suid / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron / veterinary
  • Mutation
  • Swine


  • Capsid Proteins
  • DNA, Viral
  • UL21 protein, Pseudorabies virus