Glycoprotein D (gD) of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is one of four glycoproteins essential for HSV entry and cell fusion. The purpose of this study was to determine the plasticity of gD to tolerate insertion or deletion mutations and to construct an oncolytic HSV-1 that utilizes the disialoganglioside GD2 as a HSV-1 entry receptor. We found that the N-terminus of gD tolerates long insertions, whereas residues adjacent to the gD Ig-like V-type core tolerated shorter insertions (up to 15 amino acids), but not greater than 60 amino acids. Recombinant HSV-1 containing the ch14.18 single chain variable fragment (scFv) at the N-terminus of gD failed to mediate entry, even though the ch14.18 scFv-gD chimera Fc bound to neuroblastoma cells expressing GD2. Finally, we found that hyperfusogenic gB mutants enhanced fusion to a greater degree with the gB receptor the paired immunoglobulin-like type 2 receptor alpha (PILRα) than with gD receptors HVEM and nectin-1. Hyperfusogenic gB could restore the fusion function with PILRα when a gD constructed contained only the "profusion domain" (PFD), suggesting the hyperfusogenic form of gB may regulate fusion of PILRα via a novel mechanism through gH/gL and the gD PFD.
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