Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) envelope glycoprotein D (gD) plays an essential role in viral entry. The functional regions of gD responsible for viral entry have been mapped to its extracellular domain, whereas the gD cytoplasmic domain plays no obvious role in viral entry. Thus far, the role(s) of the gD cytoplasmic domain in HSV-1 replication has remained to be elucidated. In this study, we show that ectopic expression of gD induces microvillus-like tubular structures at the plasma membrane which resemble the reported projection structures of the plasma membrane induced in HSV-1-infected cells. Mutations in the arginine cluster (residues 365 to 367) in the gD cytoplasmic domain greatly reduced gD-induced plasma membrane remodeling. In agreement with this, the mutations in the arginine cluster in the gD cytoplasmic domain reduced the number of microvillus-like tubular structures at the plasma membrane in HSV-1-infected cells. In addition, the mutations produced an accumulation of unenveloped nucleocapsids in the cytoplasm and reduced viral replication and cell-cell spread. These results suggest that the arginine cluster in the gD cytoplasmic domain is required for the efficient induction of plasma membrane projections and viral final envelopment, and these functions of the gD domain may lead to efficient viral replication and cell-cell spread.
Importance: The cytoplasmic domain of HSV-1 gD, an envelope glycoprotein essential for viral entry, was reported to promote viral replication and cell-cell spread, but the role(s) of the domain during HSV-1 infection has remained unknown. In this study, we clarify two functions of the arginine cluster in the HSV-1 gD cytoplasmic domain, both of which require host cell membrane remodeling, i.e., the formation of microvillus-like projections at the plasma membrane and viral final envelopment in HSV-1-infected cells. We also show that the gD arginine cluster is required for efficient HSV-1 replication and cell-cell spread. This is the first report clarifying not only the functions of the gD cytoplasmic domain but also identifying the gD arginine cluster to be the HSV-1 factor responsible for the induction of plasma membrane projections in HSV-1-infected cells. Our results elucidate some of the functions of this multifunctional envelope glycoprotein during HSV-1 infection.
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