The herpes simplex virus 1 UL 17 gene is required for localization of capsids and major and minor capsid proteins to intranuclear sites where viral DNA is cleaved and packaged

Virology. 1998 Dec 5;252(1):115-25. doi: 10.1006/viro.1998.9439.


In nuclei of cells infected with herpes simplex virus (HSV), synthesized viral DNA accumulates as concatamers that are cleaved into genomic lengths and inserted into preformed capsids. Whereas newly replicated DNA and enzymes required for DNA synthesis accumulate in sites of infected cell nuclei termed replication compartments, the intranuclear site of DNA cleavage and packaging is currently controversial. DNA packaging requires the UL6, UL15, UL17, UL25, UL28, UL32, and UL33 genes in addition to the major capsid proteins. Using confocal immunofluorescence microscopy, it was observed that in > 95% of HEp-2 cells fixed at late times after infection with wild-type HSV-1, capsids, major capsid proteins ICP5 and ICP35, and the UL6-encoded minor capsid protein localized in DNA replication compartments. These data support the hypothesis that capsid assembly and DNA cleavage/packaging normally occur in HEp-2 cell replication compartments. In contrast, cells infected with a viral mutant lacking functional UL17 contained antigenically dense nuclear aggregates that stained with ICP35, ICP5, and capsid specific antibodies. Cells infected with the UL17 mutant virus also displayed UL6-specific fluorescence in a diffuse pattern at the nuclear periphery in regions not containing ICP35 and ICP5. Displacement of ICP35 from replication compartments was not observed in cells infected with cleavage/packaging mutants lacking UL28 and UL33. We conclude that the UL17 gene is required for correct targeting of capsids and major and minor capsid proteins to the DNA replication compartment of HEp-2 cells and deduce that this targeting reflects one functional role of UL17 in viral DNA cleavage and packaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Capsid / chemistry
  • Capsid / genetics*
  • Capsid / metabolism*
  • Capsid Proteins*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • DNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Vero Cells
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Assembly*


  • Capsid Proteins
  • DNA, Viral
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ICP35 protein, Human herpesvirus 1
  • ICP5 capsid protein, herpes simplex virus type 1
  • Viral Proteins
  • DNA cleavage and packaging proteins, Herpesvirus