Herpes simplex virus replication compartments can form by coalescence of smaller compartments

Virology. 2003 May 10;309(2):232-47. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6822(03)00107-7.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) uses intranuclear compartmentalization to concentrate the viral and cellular factors required for the progression of the viral life cycle. Processes as varied as viral DNA replication, late gene expression, and capsid assembly take place within discrete structures within the nucleus called replication compartments. Replication compartments are hypothesized to mature from a few distinct structures, called prereplicative sites, that form adjacent to cellular nuclear matrix-associated ND10 sites. During productive infection, the HSV single-stranded DNA-binding protein ICP8 localizes to replication compartments. To further the understanding of replication compartment maturation, we have constructed and characterized a recombinant HSV-1 strain that expresses an ICP8 molecule with green fluorescent protein (GFP) fused to its C terminus. In transfected Vero cells that were infected with HSV, the ICP8-GFP protein localized to prereplicative sites in the presence of the viral DNA synthesis inhibitor phosphonoacetic acid (PAA) or to replication compartments in the absence of PAA. A recombinant HSV-1 strain expressing the ICP8-GFP virus replicated in Vero cells, but the yield was increased by 150-fold in an ICP8-complementing cell line. Using the ICP8-GFP protein as a marker for replication compartments, we show here that these structures start as punctate structures early in infection and grow into large, globular structures that eventually fill the nucleus. Large replication compartments were formed by small structures that either moved through the nucleus to merge with adjacent compartments or remained relatively stationary within the nucleus and grew by accretion and fused with neighboring structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure*
  • Cell Nucleus / virology
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • DNA Replication
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Mutation
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Transfection
  • Vero Cells
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Replication*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ICP8 protein, Simplexvirus
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • UL9 protein, Human herpesvirus 1
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins