Navigating the cytoplasm: Delivery of the alphaherpesvirus genome to the nucleus

Gregory A. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Herpesviruses virions are large and complex structures that deliver their genetic content to nuclei upon entering cells. This property is not unusual as many other viruses including the adenoviruses, orthomyxoviruses, papillomaviruses, polyomaviruses, and retroviruses, do likewise. However, the means by which viruses in the alphaherpesvirinae subfamily accomplish this fundamental stage of the infectious cycle is tied to their defining ability to efficiently invade the nervous system. Fusion of the viral envelope with a cell membrane results in the deposition of the capsid, along with an assortment of tegument proteins, into the cytosol. Establishment of infection requires that the capsid traverse the cytosol, dock at a nuclear pore, and inject its genome into the nucleoplasm. Accumulating evidence indicates that the capsid is not the effector of this delivery process, but is instead shepherded by tegument proteins that remain capsid bound. At the same time, tegument proteins that are released from the capsid upon entry act to increase the susceptibility of the cell to the ensuing infection. Mucosal epithelial cells and neurons are both susceptible to alphaherpesvirus infection and, together, provide the niche to which these viruses have adapted. Although much has been revealed about the functions of de novo expressed tegument proteins during the late stages of assembly and egress, this review will specifically address the roles of tegument proteins brought into the cell with the incoming virion, and our current understanding of alphaherpesvirus genome delivery to nuclei.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-220
Number of pages50
JournalCurrent Issues in Molecular Biology
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Navigating the cytoplasm: Delivery of the alphaherpesvirus genome to the nucleus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this