Herpes simplex virus (HSV) glycoprotein D (gD) plays an essential role in the entry of virus into cells. HSV mutants unable to express gD were constructed. The mutants can be propagated on VD60 cells, which supply the viruses with gD; however, virus particles lacking gD were produced in mutant-infected Vero cells. Virus particles with or without gD adsorbed to a large number (greater than 4 x 10(4] of sites on the cell surface; however, virions lacking gD did not enter cells. Cells pretreated with UV-inactivated virions containing gD (approximately 5 x 10(3) particles per cell) were resistant to infection with HSV type 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2. In contrast, cells pretreated with UV-inactivated virions lacking gD could be infected with HSV-1 and HSV-2. If infectious HSV-1 was added prior to UV-inactivated virus particles containing gD, the infectious virus entered cells and replicated. Therefore, virus particles containing gD appear to block specific cell surface receptors which are very limited in number. Particles lacking gD are presumably unable to interact with these receptors, suggesting that gD is an essential receptor-binding polypeptide
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