Seeing the portal in herpes simplex virus type 1 B capsids

J Virol. 2011 Feb;85(4):1871-4. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01663-10. Epub 2010 Nov 24.


Resolving the nonicosahedral components in large icosahedral viruses remains a technical challenge in structural virology. We have used the emerging technique of Zernike phase-contrast electron cryomicroscopy to enhance the image contrast of ice-embedded herpes simplex virus type 1 capsids. Image reconstruction enabled us to retrieve the structure of the unique portal vertex in the context of the icosahedral capsid and, for the first time, show the subunit organization of a portal in a virus infecting eukaryotes. Our map unequivocally resolves the 12-subunit portal situated beneath one of the pentameric vertices, thus removing uncertainty over the location and stoichiometry of the herpesvirus portal.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsid / ultrastructure*
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy / methods
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Microscopy, Phase-Contrast