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Recent Publication

Herpes Simplex Virus Organizes Cytoplasmic Membranes to Form a Viral Assembly Center in Neuronal Cells


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a neuroinvasive virus that has been used as a model organism for studying common properties of all herpesviruses. HSV induces host organelle rearrangement and forms multiple, dispersed assembly compartments in epithelial cells, which complicates the study of HSV assembly. In this study, we show that HSV forms a visually distinct unitary cytoplasmic viral assembly center (cVAC) in both cancerous and primary neuronal cells that concentrates viral structural proteins and is a major site of capsid envelopment. The HSV cVAC also concentrates host membranes that are important for viral assembly, such as Golgi- and recycling endosome-derived membranes. Lastly, we show that HSV cVAC formation and/or maintenance depends on an intact microtubule network and a viral tegument protein, pUL51. Our observations suggest that the neuronal cVAC is a uniquely useful model to study common herpesvirus assembly pathways, and cell-specific pathways for membrane reorganization.

Importance Herpesvirus particles are complex and contain many different proteins that must come together in an organized and coordinated fashion. Many viruses solve this coordination problem by creating a specialized assembly factory in the host cell, and the formation of such factories provides a promising target for interfering with virus production. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infects several types of cells, including neurons, but has not previously been shown to form such an organized factory in the non-neuronal cells in which its assembly has been best studied. Here we show that HSV-1 forms an organized assembly factory in neuronal cells, and we identify some of the viral and host cell factors that are important for its formation.

  • Shaowen White, Hiroyuki Kawano, N. Charles Harata, Richard J. Roller