Mutations in the cytoplasmic tail of herpes simplex virus 1 gH reduce the fusogenicity of gB in transfected cells

J Virol. 2013 Sep;87(18):10139-47. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01760-13. Epub 2013 Jul 10.


Mutations within the cytoplasmic tail (cytotail) of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) gH were previously observed to suppress the syncytial phenotype of gB cytoplasmic domain mutant A855V in infected cells. Here, we examined the effects of gH cytotail mutations on virus-free cell-cell fusion in transfected cells to exclude the contributions of viral proteins other than gD, gH/gL, and gB. We show that a truncation at residue 832 coupled with the point mutation V831A within the cytotail of gH reduces fusion regardless of whether the wild type (WT) or a syn gB allele is present. We hypothesize that the gH cytotail mutations either reduce activation of gB by gH/gL or suppress the fusogenicity of gB through another, as yet unknown mechanism. The gB cytodomain and the gH cytotail do not interact in vitro, suggesting that mutations in the gH cytotail may instead affect the function of the gH/gL ectodomain. Nevertheless, we cannot exclude the possibility that the gB cytodomain and the gH cytotail interact in the context of full-length membrane-anchored proteins. The observed fusion suppression in transfected cells is less prominent than what was seen in infected cells, and we propose that gH cytotail mutations may additionally suppress syncytium formation in cells infected with syn HSV-1 by acting on other viral proteins, reinforcing the idea that fusion of HSV-infected cells is a complex phenomenon. Although fusion suppression by the gH cytotail mutant in transfected cells was evident when syncytia were visualized and counted, it was not detected by the luciferase assay, highlighting the differences between the two assays.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Giant Cells / virology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mutant Proteins / genetics
  • Mutant Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / genetics*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Internalization*


  • Mutant Proteins
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • glycoprotein B, Simplexvirus
  • glycoprotein H, herpes simplex virus type 1