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The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) capsid is a T=16 icosahedral shell that forms in the nuclei of infected cells. Capsid assembly also occurs in vitro in reaction mixtures created from insect cell extracts containing recombinant baculovirus-expressed HSV-1 capsid proteins. During capsid formation, the major capsid protein, VP5, and the scaffolding protein, pre-VP22a, condense to form structures that are extended into procapsids by addition of the triplex proteins, VP19C and VP23. We investigated whether triplex proteins bind to the major capsid-scaffold protein complexes as separate polypeptides or as preformed triplexes. Assembly products from reactions lacking one triplex protein were immunoprecipitated and examined for the presence of the other. The results showed that neither triplex protein bound unless both were present, suggesting that interaction between VP19C and VP23 is required before either protein can participate in the assembly process. Sucrose density gradient analysis was employed to determine the sedimentation coefficients of VP19C, VP23, and VP19C-VP23 complexes. The results showed that the two proteins formed a complex with a sedimentation coefficient of 7.2S, a value that is consistent with formation of a VP19C-VP23(2) heterotrimer. Furthermore, VP23 was observed to have a sedimentation coefficient of 4.9S, suggesting that this protein exists as a dimer in solution. Deletion analysis of VP19C revealed two domains that may be required for attachment of the triplex to major capsid-scaffold protein complexes; none of the deletions disrupted interaction of VP19C with VP23. We propose that preformed triplexes (VP19C-VP23(2) heterotrimers) interact with major capsid-scaffold protein complexes during assembly of the HSV-1 capsid.


This article was published by the American Society for Microbiology, and is available at:

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