The dynamic nature of the conserved tegument protein UL37 of herpesviruses

J Biol Chem. 2018 Oct 12;293(41):15827-15839. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.004481. Epub 2018 Aug 30.


In all herpesviruses, the space between the capsid shell and the lipid envelope is occupied by the unique tegument layer composed of proteins that, in addition to structural roles, play many other roles in the viral replication. UL37 is a highly conserved tegument protein that has activities ranging from virion morphogenesis to directional capsid trafficking to manipulation of the host innate immune response and binds multiple partners. The N-terminal half of UL37 (UL37N) has a compact bean-shaped α-helical structure that contains a surface region essential for neuroinvasion. However, no biochemical or structural information is currently available for the C-terminal half of UL37 (UL37C) that mediates most of its interactions with multiple binding partners. Here, we show that the C-terminal half of UL37 from pseudorabies virus UL37C is a conformationally flexible monomer composed of an elongated folded core and an unstructured C-terminal tail. This elongated structure, along with that of its binding partner UL36, explains the nature of filamentous tegument structures bridging the capsid and the envelope. We propose that the dynamic nature of UL37 underlies its ability to perform diverse roles during viral replication.

Keywords: Thermofluor; conformational flexibility; herpesvirus; multi-angle light scattering; multifunctional protein; small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS); structural model; tegument; viral protein.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Herpesvirus 1, Suid / chemistry
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation, alpha-Helical
  • Protein Domains
  • Scattering, Small Angle
  • Transition Temperature
  • Viral Structural Proteins / chemistry*
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Viral Structural Proteins

Associated data

  • PDB/4K70
  • PDB/5VYL