Most DNA viruses replicate in the nucleus and exit it either by passing through the nuclear pores or by rupturing the nuclear envelope. Unusually, herpesviruses have evolved a complex mechanism of nuclear escape whereby nascent capsids bud at the inner nuclear membrane to form perinuclear virions that subsequently fuse with the outer nuclear membrane, releasing capsids into the cytosol. Although this general scheme is accepted in the field, the players and their roles are still debated. Recent studies illuminated critical mechanistic features of this enigmatic process and uncovered surprising parallels with a novel cellular nuclear export process. This review summarizes our current understanding of nuclear egress in herpesviruses, examines the experimental evidence and models, and outlines outstanding questions with the goal of stimulating new research in this area.
Keywords: budding; de-envelopment; envelopment; herpesvirus; nuclear egress; scission; structure; viral egress.