Tegument Proteins Help Route Herpesvirus
Mar 29, 2005 - 5:49:38 PM

Tegument proteins, which lie between the viral capsid and membrane envelope, route herpesviruses to either the cell bodies or axon terminals of neurons, according to Gant Luxton et al.

The α-herpesviruses, which cause cold sores and shingles, enter sensory neurons, where they take up lifelong residence. When the viruses become reactivated, the progeny virus particles travel down axons to the periphery, resulting in physical symptoms.

The viral proteins associated with the microtubule motors that allow this transport remain unknown. To determine which viral proteins were involved in trafficking, Luxton et al. used correlative motion analysis to simultaneously track fluorescently labeled capsid and tegument proteins in living neurons.

The researchers found that the tegument proteins are the key components of the capsid transport complex; when tegument proteins were associated with the capsid, the viral particles moved toward the axon (anterograde motion). Conversely, when tegument proteins were removed, viral particles moved toward the cell body (retrograde motion). Identifying tegument proteins as an important component of the capsid transport complex reveals a key mechanistic step in the infectious cycle of human herpesvirus.

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