"Non-Essential" Proteins of HSV-1 with Essential Roles In Vivo: A Comprehensive Review

Viruses. 2020 Dec 23;13(1):17. doi: 10.3390/v13010017.


Viruses encode for structural proteins that participate in virion formation and include capsid and envelope proteins. In addition, viruses encode for an array of non-structural accessory proteins important for replication, spread, and immune evasion in the host and are often linked to virus pathogenesis. Most virus accessory proteins are non-essential for growth in cell culture because of the simplicity of the infection barriers or because they have roles only during a state of the infection that does not exist in cell cultures (i.e., tissue-specific functions), or finally because host factors in cell culture can complement their absence. For these reasons, the study of most nonessential viral factors is more complex and requires development of suitable cell culture systems and in vivo models. Approximately half of the proteins encoded by the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) genome have been classified as non-essential. These proteins have essential roles in vivo in counteracting antiviral responses, facilitating the spread of the virus from the sites of initial infection to the peripheral nervous system, where it establishes lifelong reservoirs, virus pathogenesis, and other regulatory roles during infection. Understanding the functions of the non-essential proteins of herpesviruses is important to understand mechanisms of viral pathogenesis but also to harness properties of these viruses for therapeutic purposes. Here, we have provided a comprehensive summary of the functions of HSV-1 non-essential proteins.

Keywords: HSV-1 based therapies; HSV-1 egress; HSV-1 envelopment; HSV-1 non-essential proteins; gene silencing; innate immunity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endonucleases / genetics
  • Endonucleases / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Herpes Simplex / immunology
  • Herpes Simplex / metabolism
  • Herpes Simplex / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / physiology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions* / genetics
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Phosphotransferases / genetics
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism
  • Trans-Activators
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins / metabolism
  • Virulence
  • Virus Replication*


  • Nucleic Acids
  • Trans-Activators
  • Viral Proteins
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins
  • Phosphotransferases
  • Endonucleases