In human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), the UL128-131A locus plays an essential role in cellular tropism and spread. Here, we report the complete annotation of the GP129-133 locus from guinea pig cytomegalovirus (GPCMV) and the discovery of the UL131A homolog, named GP133. We have found that similar to HCMV the GP129-133 proteins form a pentamer complex with the GPCMV glycoproteins gH and gL. In addition, we find that the GP129-133 proteins play a critical role in entry as the GP129-133 deletion mutant shows a defect in both endothelial and fibroblast cell entry. Although the GP129-133 deletion strain can propagate in vitro, we find that the deletion fails to spread in vivo. Interestingly, the wildtype strain can spontaneously give rise to the GP129-133 deletion strain during in vivo spread, suggesting genetic instability at this locus.
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