Quantification of the DNA cleavage and packaging proteins U(L)15 and U(L)28 in A and B capsids of herpes simplex virus type 1

The proteins produced by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) genes U(L)15 and U(L)28 are believed to form part of the terminase enzyme, a protein complex essential for the cleavage of newly synthesized, concatameric herpesvirus DNA and the packaging of the resultant genome lengths into preformed capsids. This work describes the purification of recombinant forms of PU(L)15 and pU(L)28, which allowed the calculation of the average number of copies of each protein in A and B capsids and in capsids lacking the putative portal encoded by U(L)6. On average, 1.0 (+/-0.29 [standard deviation]) copies of PU(L)15 and 2.4 (+/-0.97) copies of pU(L)28 were present in B capsids, 1.2 (+/-0.72) copies of PU(L)15 and 1.5 (+/-0.86) copies of pU(L)28 were found in mutant capsids lacking the putative portal protein pU(L)6, and approximately 12.0 (+/-5.63) Copies of pU(L)15 and 0.6 (+/-0.32) copies of pU(L)28 were present in each A capsid. These results suggest that the packaging machine is partly comprised of approximately 12 copies of pU(L)15, as found in A capsids, with wild-type B and mutant U(L)6(-) capsids containing an incomplete complement of cleavage and packaging proteins. These results are consistent with observations that B capsids form by default in the absence of packaging machinery in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, A capsids may be the result of initiated but aborted attempts at DNA packaging, resulting in the retention of at least part of the DNA packaging machinery.

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