The apical region of the herpes simplex virus major capsid protein promotes capsid maturation

Laura L. Ruhge, Alexis G.E. Huet, James F. Conway, Gregory A. Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The herpesvirus capsid assembles in the nucleus as an immature procapsid precursor built around viral scaffold proteins. The event that initiates procapsid maturation is unknown, but it is dependent upon activation of the VP24 internal protease. Scaffold cleavage triggers angularization of the shell and its decoration with the VP26 and pUL25 capsid-surface proteins. In both the procapsid and mature angularized capsid, the apical region of the major capsid protein (VP5) is surface exposed. We investigated whether the VP5 apical region contributes to intracellular transport dynamics following entry into primary sensory neurons and also tested the hypothesis that conserved negatively charged amino acids in the apical region contribute to VP26 acquisition. To our surprise, neither hypothesis proved true. Instead, mutation of glutamic acid residues in the apical region delayed viral propagation and induced focal capsid accumulations in nuclei. Examination of capsid morphogenesis based on epitope unmasking, capsid composition, and ultrastructural analysis indicated that these clusters consisted of procapsids. The results demonstrate that, in addition to established events that occur inside the capsid, the exterior capsid shell promotes capsid morphogenesis and maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00821
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Assembly
  • Axon transport
  • Capsid
  • HSV-1
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Herpesvirus
  • Major capsid protein
  • Maturation
  • Microscopy
  • Procapsid
  • VP5
  • VP5 apical region

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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