Second-site mutations encoding residues 34 and 78 of the major capsid protein (VP5) of herpes simplex virus type 1 are important for overcoming a blocked maturation cleavage site of the capsid scaffold proteins

Susan C. Warner, Prashant Desai, Stanley Person

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


During assembly of the herpes simplex type 1 capsid, the major capsid protein VP5 interacts with the C-terminal residues of the scaffold proteins encoded by UL26 and UL26.5. Subsequent to capsid assembly the scaffold proteins are cleaved at the maturation site by a serine protease also encoded by UL26, thereby enabling the bulk of the scaffold proteins to be released from the capsid. Previously, a mutant virus (KUL26-610/611) was isolated in which this maturation cleavage site was blocked by replacing the Ala/Ser at the 610/611 cleavage site by Glu/Phe. This mutation was lethal and required a transformed cell line expressing wild-type UL26 gene products for growth. Although the mutation was lethal, spontaneous reversions occurred at a high frequency. Previously, a small number of revertants were isolated and all were found to have second-site mutations in VP5. The purpose of the present study was to do a comprehensive determination of the sites altered in VP5 by the second-site mutations. To do this, an additional 25 independent spontaneous revertants were characterized. Seven of the 25 arose by GC → GT changes in codon 78, giving rise to an alanine to valine substitution. Four were the result of base changes at codon 34 but two different amino acids were produced as the changes were at different positions in the codon. Two mutations were detected at position 41 and mutations that occurred once were found at codons 69 and 80. Thus, 15 of the 25 second-site mutants were localized to codons 34 to 80 of VP5, which contains 1374 amino acids. The remaining 10 revertants had codon changes at nine different sites, of which the most N-terminal was altered at codon 187 and the most C-terminal at codon 1317. As noted in the much smaller study a preponderance of the second-site mutants in VP5 were altered in codons at the extreme N-terminus of VP5. It is especially noteworthy that 11 out of 25 of the mutations occurred at codons 34 and 78. As expected, all of the revertants isolated were shown to retain the original KUL26-610/611 mutation, and the scaffold proteins remain uncleaved. All showed decreased retention of VP24 in the B capsids compared to the wild-type KOS, but more than the KUL26-610/611 parental virus. The revertants all had decreased growth rates of 2 to 18% compared to that of KOS and showed varying degrees of sensitivity when grown at 39.5°C. The mutations in VP5 of three of the previously isolated viruses (PR5, PR6, and PR7) were transferred into a wild-type background, i.e., a virus encoding wild-type UL26 and UL26.5 gene products. All replicated in nonpermissive (Vero) cells and cleaved scaffold proteins. PR5 and PR6 in the wild-type background gave wild-type burst sizes and gave C-capsids that retained VP24 at approximately wild-type levels. The third revertant, PR7, in the wild-type background showed only a twofold increase of burst size (to 20% of wild-type) and the capsids showed little or no increase of VP24 retention. Therefore, the second-site mutations of PR7 (R69C) by itself had a negative effect on virus replication. By contrast the temperature sensitivity of PR6 and PR7 remained unchanged in the wild-type background. Thus the temperature sensitivity of PR6 and PR7 resides in VP5 independently of the mutation in the UL26 cleavage site. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-226
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 5 2000


  • Capsid
  • Capsid assembly
  • HSV-1
  • Herpesvirus
  • Major capsid protein
  • Second-site mutation
  • VP5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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