The mechanism by which herpesviruses acquire their tegument is not yet clear. One model is that outer tegument proteins are recruited by the cytoplasmic tails of viral glycoproteins. In the case of herpes simplex virus tegument protein VP22, interactions with the glycoproteins gE and gD have been shown. We have previously shown that the C-terminal half of VP22 contains the necessary signal for assembly into the virus. Here, we show that during infection VP22 interacts with gE and gM, as well as its tegument partner VP16. However, by using a range of techniques we were unable to demonstrate VP22 binding to gD. By using pulldown assays, we show that while the cytoplasmic tails of both gE and gM interact with VP22, only gE interacts efficiently with the C-terminal packaging domain of VP22. Furthermore, gE but not gM can recruit VP22 to the Golgi/trans-Golgi network region of the cell in the absence of other virus proteins. To examine the role of the gE-VP22 interaction in infection, we constructed a recombinant virus expressing a mutant VP22 protein with a 14-residue deletion that is unable to bind gE (Delta gEbind). Coimmunoprecipitation assays confirmed that this variant of VP22 was unable to complex with gE. Moreover, VP22 was no longer recruited to its characteristic cytoplasmic trafficking complexes but exhibited a diffuse localization. Importantly, packaging of this variant into virions was abrogated. The mutant virus exhibited poor growth in epithelial cells, similar to the defect we have observed for a VP22 knockout virus. These results suggest that deletion of just 14 residues from the VP22 protein is sufficient to inhibit binding to gE and hence recruitment to the viral envelope and assembly into the virus, resulting in a growth phenotype equivalent to that produced by deleting the entire reading frame.
Two factors contribute to Burkitt lymphoma (BL) pathogenesis, a chromosomal translocation leading to c-myc oncogene deregulation and infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Although the virus has B cell growth-transforming ability, this may not relate to its role in BL since many of the transforming proteins are not expressed in the tumor. Mounting evidence supports an alternative role, whereby EBV counteracts the high apoptotic sensitivity inherent to the c-myc-driven growth program. In that regard, a subset of BLs carry virus mutants in a novel form of latent infection that provides unusually strong resistance to apoptosis. Uniquely, these virus mutants use Wp (a viral promoter normally activated early in B cell transformation) and express a broader-than-usual range of latent antigens. Here, using an inducible system to express the candidate antigens, we show that this marked apoptosis resistance is mediated not by one of the extended range of EBNAs seen in Wp-restricted latency but by Wp-driven expression of the viral bcl2 homologue, BHRF1, a protein usually associated with the virus lytic cycle. Interestingly, this Wp/BHRF1 connection is not confined to Wp-restricted BLs but appears integral to normal B cell transformation by EBV. We find that the BHRF1 gene expression recently reported in newly infected B cells is temporally linked to Wp activation and the presence of W/BHRF1-spliced transcripts. Furthermore, just as Wp activity is never completely eclipsed in in vitro-transformed lines, low-level BHRF1 transcripts remain detectable in these cells long-term. Most importantly, recognition by BHRF1-specific T cells confirms that such lines continue to express the protein independently of any lytic cycle entry. This work therefore provides the first evidence that BHRF1, the EBV bcl2 homologue, is constitutively expressed as a latent protein in growth-transformed cells in vitro and, in the context of Wp-restricted BL, may contribute to virus-associated lymphomagenesis in vivo.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is present in all cases of endemic Burkitt lymphoma (BL) but in few European/North American sporadic BLs. Gene expression arrays of sporadic tumors have defined a consensus BL profile within which tumors are classifiable as "molecular BL" (mBL). Where endemic BLs fall relative to this profile remains unclear, since they not only carry EBV but also display one of two different forms of virus latency. Here, we use early-passage BL cell lines from different tumors, and BL subclones from a single tumor, to compare EBV-negative cells with EBV-positive cells displaying either classical latency I EBV infection (where EBNA1 is the only EBV antigen expressed from the wild-type EBV genome) or Wp-restricted latency (where an EBNA2 gene-deleted virus genome broadens antigen expression to include the EBNA3A, -3B, and -3C proteins and BHRF1). Expression arrays show that both types of endemic BL fall within the mBL classification. However, while EBV-negative and latency I BLs show overlapping profiles, Wp-restricted BLs form a distinct subgroup, characterized by a detectable downregulation of the germinal center (GC)-associated marker Bcl6 and upregulation of genes marking early plasmacytoid differentiation, notably IRF4 and BLIMP1. Importantly, these same changes can be induced in EBV-negative or latency I BL cells by infection with an EBNA2-knockout virus. Thus, we infer that the distinct gene profile of Wp-restricted BLs does not reflect differences in the identity of the tumor progenitor cell per se but differences imposed on a common progenitor by broadened EBV gene expression.
Assembly of the herpesvirus tegument is poorly understood but is believed to involve interactions between outer tegument proteins and the cytoplasmic domains of envelope glycoproteins. Here, we present the detailed characterization of a multicomponent glycoprotein-tegument complex found in herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1)-infected cells. We demonstrate that the tegument protein VP22 bridges a complex between glycoprotein E (gE) and glycoprotein M (gM). Glycoprotein I (gI), the known binding partner of gE, is also recruited into this gE-VP22-gM complex but is not required for its formation. Exclusion of the glycoproteins gB and gD and VP22s major binding partner VP16 demonstrates that recruitment of virion components into this complex is highly selective. The immediate-early protein ICP0, which requires VP22 for packaging into the virion, is also assembled into this gE-VP22-gM-gI complex in a VP22-dependent fashion. Although subcomplexes containing VP22 and ICP0 can be formed when either gE or gM are absent, optimal complex formation requires both glycoproteins. Furthermore, and in line with complex formation, neither of these glycoproteins is individually required for VP22 or ICP0 packaging into the virion, but deletion of gE and gM greatly reduces assembly of both VP22 and ICP0. Double deletion of gE and gM also results in small plaque size, reduced virus yield, and defective secondary envelopment, similar to the phenotype previously shown for pseudorabies virus. Hence, we suggest that optimal gE-VP22-gM-gI-ICP0 complex formation correlates with efficient virus morphogenesis and spread. These data give novel insights into the poorly understood process of tegument acquisition.
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