Structure of the pseudorabies virus capsid: comparison with herpes simplex virus type 1 and differential binding of essential minor proteins

J Mol Biol. 2013 Sep 23;425(18):3415-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2013.06.034. Epub 2013 Jul 1.


The structure of pseudorabies virus (PRV) capsids isolated from the nucleus of infected cells and from PRV virions was determined by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and compared to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) capsids. PRV capsid structures closely resemble those of HSV-1, including distribution of the capsid vertex specific component (CVSC) of HSV-1, which is a heterodimer of the pUL17 and pUL25 proteins. Occupancy of CVSC on all PRV capsids is near 100%, compared to ~50% reported for HSV-1 C-capsids and 25% or less that we measure for HSV-1 A- and B-capsids. A PRV mutant lacking pUL25 does not produce C-capsids and lacks visible CVSC density in the cryo-EM-based reconstruction. A reconstruction of PRV capsids in which green fluorescent protein was fused within the N-terminus of pUL25 confirmed previous studies with a similar HSV-1 capsid mutant localizing pUL25 to the CVSC density region that is distal to the penton. However, comparison of the CVSC density in a 9-Å-resolution PRV C-capsid map with the available crystal structure of HSV-1 pUL25 failed to find a satisfactory fit, suggesting either a different fold for PRV pUL25 or a capsid-bound conformation for pUL25 that does not match the X-ray model determined from protein crystallized in solution. The PRV capsid imaged within virions closely resembles C-capsids with the addition of weak but significant density shrouding the pentons that we attribute to tegument proteins. Our results demonstrate significant structure conservation between the PRV and HSV capsids.

Keywords: BAC; CVSC; GFP; HSV-1; MS; PDB; PRV; Protein Data Bank; bacterial artificial chromosome; capsid vertex specific component; cryo-EM; cryo-electron microscopy; double-stranded DNA; dsDNA; green fluorescent protein; herpes simplex virus type 1; mass spectrometry; pUL17; pUL25; pseudorabies virus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsid / chemistry
  • Capsid / metabolism*
  • Capsid / ultrastructure
  • Capsid Proteins / chemistry*
  • Capsid Proteins / genetics
  • Capsid Proteins / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human* / chemistry
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human* / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human* / physiology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human* / ultrastructure
  • Herpesvirus 1, Suid* / chemistry
  • Herpesvirus 1, Suid* / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 1, Suid* / physiology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Suid* / ultrastructure
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Binding / genetics
  • Protein Multimerization / genetics
  • Protein Multimerization / physiology
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Swine
  • Vero Cells
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Assembly / physiology


  • Capsid Proteins
  • Viral Proteins