Bachelor of Science, University of California Berkeley (2005)
Doctor of Philosophy, University of California Berkeley (2011)
The conserved herpesvirus fusion complex consists of glycoproteins gB, gH, and gL which is critical for virion envelope fusion with the cell membrane during entry. For Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV), the complex is necessary for cell-cell fusion and presumed to mediate entry. VZV causes syncytia formation via cell-cell fusion in skin and in sensory ganglia during VZV reactivation, leading to neuronal damage, a potential contributory factor for the debilitating condition of postherpetic neuralgia. The gH cytoplasmic domain (gHcyt) is linked to the regulation of gB/gH-gL-mediated cell fusion as demonstrated by increased cell fusion in vitro by an eight amino acid (aa834-841) truncation of the gHcyt. The gHcyt regulation was identified to be dependent on the physical presence of the domain, and not of specific motifs or biochemical properties as substitution of aa834-841 with V5, cMyc, and hydrophobic or hydrophilic sequences did not affect fusion. The importance of the gHcyt length was corroborated by stepwise deletions of aa834-841 causing incremental increases in cell fusion, independent of gH surface expression and endocytosis. Consistent with the fusion assay, truncating the gHcyt in the viral genome caused exaggerated syncytia formation and significant reduction in viral titers. Importantly, infection of human skin xenografts in SCID mice was severely impaired by the truncation while maintaining the gHcyt length with the V5 substitution preserved typical replication in vitro and in skin. A role for the gHcyt in modulating the functions of the gB cytoplasmic domain (gBcyt) is proposed as the gHcyt truncation substantially enhanced cell fusion in the presence of the gB[Y881F] mutation. The significant reduction in skin infection caused by hyperfusogenic mutations in either the gHcyt or gBcyt demonstrates that both domains are critical for regulating syncytia formation and failure to control cell fusion, rather than enhancing viral spread, is severely detrimental to VZV pathogenesis.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004173
View details for PubMedID 24874654