The tegument of herpesvirus virions is a distinctive structure whose assembly and function are not well understood. The herpes simplex virus type 1 VP22 tegument protein encoded by the UL49 gene is conserved among the alphaherpesviruses. Using cell biology and viral genetics, we provide an initial characterization of the pseudorabies virus (PRV) VP22 homologue. We identified three isoforms of VP22 present in PRV-infected cells that can be resolved by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The predominant form is not phosphorylated and is present in virions, while the other two species are phosphorylated and excluded from virions. VP22 localized to the nucleus by 6 h postinfection, as determined by immunofluorescence and cell fractionation. VP22 immunofluorescence in the nucleus was both diffuse and in punctate structures. The punctate nuclear localization was the most pronounced form of staining and did not localize exclusively to sites of viral DNA replication. Unexpectedly, a VP22 null mutant had no obvious phenotypes during tissue culture infections and was similar to the wild type in all respects. Moreover, the VP22 null mutant was as virulent and neuroinvasive as the wild-type virus after infection of the rodent eye and spread to the brain using both anterograde and retrograde neuronal circuits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science