A glycoprotein B-neutralizing antibody structure at 2.8 Å uncovers a critical domain for herpesvirus fusion initiation

Nat Commun. 2020 Aug 18;11(1):4141. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17911-0.


Members of the Herpesviridae, including the medically important alphaherpesvirus varicella-zoster virus (VZV), induce fusion of the virion envelope with cell membranes during entry, and between cells to form polykaryocytes in infected tissues. The conserved glycoproteins, gB, gH and gL, are the core functional proteins of the herpesvirus fusion complex. gB serves as the primary fusogen via its fusion loops, but functions for the remaining gB domains remain unexplained. As a pathway for biological discovery of domain function, our approach used structure-based analysis of the viral fusogen together with a neutralizing antibody. We report here a 2.8 Å cryogenic-electron microscopy structure of native gB recovered from VZV-infected cells, in complex with a human monoclonal antibody, 93k. This high-resolution structure guided targeted mutagenesis at the gB-93k interface, providing compelling evidence that a domain spatially distant from the gB fusion loops is critical for herpesvirus fusion, revealing a potential new target for antiviral therapies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / chemistry*
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / ultrastructure
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation, beta-Strand / genetics
  • Protein Domains / genetics
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / ultrastructure
  • Virus Internalization*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • glycoprotein B, varicella-zoster virus