Interaction domains of the UL16 and UL21 tegument proteins of herpes simplex virus

J Virol. 2010 Mar;84(6):2963-71. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02015-09. Epub 2009 Dec 30.


The UL16 protein of herpes simplex virus is capsid associated and was previously identified as a binding partner of the membrane-associated UL11 tegument protein (J. S. Loomis, R. J. Courtney, and J. W. Wills, J. Virol. 77:11417-11424, 2003). In those studies, a less-prominent, approximately 65-kDa binding partner of unknown identity was also observed. Mass spectrometry studies have now revealed this species to be UL21, a tegument protein that has been implicated in the transport of capsids in the cytoplasm. The validity of the mass spectrometry results was tested in a variety of coimmunoprecipitation and glutathione S-transferase pull-down experiments. The data revealed that UL21 and UL16 can form a complex in the absence of other viral proteins, even when the assays used proteins purified from Escherichia coli. Moreover, UL11 was able to pull down UL21 only when UL16 was present, suggesting that all three proteins can form a complex. Deletion analyses revealed that the second half of UL21 (residues 268 to 535) is sufficient for the UL16 interaction and packaging into virions; however, attempts to map a subdomain of UL16 were largely unsuccessful, with only the first 40 (of 373) residues being found to be dispensable. Nevertheless, it is clear that UL16 must have two distinct binding sites, because covalent modification of its free cysteines with N-ethylmaleimide blocked binding to UL11 but not UL21. These findings should prove useful for elucidating the molecular machinery used to transmit a signal into a virion when it attaches to cells, a recently discovered mechanism in which UL16 is a central player.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsid / metabolism
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Multiprotein Complexes / chemistry
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Simplexvirus / metabolism*
  • Vero Cells
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • Viral Structural Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Structural Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Structural Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virion / metabolism


  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • Viral Structural Proteins
  • UL21 protein, herpes simplex virus 1