Human cytomegalovirus gH/gL/gO promotes the fusion step of entry into all cell types, whereas gH/gL/UL128-131 broadens virus tropism through a distinct mechanism

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Abstract

Interaction between gH/gL and the fusion protein gB is likely a conserved feature of the entry mechanism for all herpesviruses. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) gH/gL can be bound by gO or by the set of proteins UL128, UL130, and UL131, forming gH/ gL/gO and gH/gL/UL128-131. The mechanisms by which these complexes facilitate entry are poorly understood. Mutants lacking UL128-131 replicate well on fibroblasts but fail to enter epithelial/endothelial cells, and this has led to the general assumption that gH/gL/UL128-131 promotes gB-mediated fusion on epithelial/endothelial cells whereas gH/gL/gO provides this function on fibroblasts. This was challenged by observations that gO-null mutants were defective on all of these cell types, suggesting that entry into epithelial/endothelial cells requires both of the gH/gL complexes, but the severe replication defect of the gO mutants precluded detailed analysis. We previously reported that the ratio of gH/gL/gO and gH/gL/UL128-131 in the virion envelope varied dramatically among HCMV strains. Here, we show that strains not only differ in the ratio, but also vary in the total amount of gH/gL in the virion. Cell-type-specific particle-to-PFU ratios of HCMV strains that contained different amounts of gH/gL/gO and gH/gL/UL128-131 were determined. Infection of both fibroblasts and epithelial cells was generally correlated with the abundance of gH/gL/gO, but not with that of gH/gL/UL128-131. The low infectivity of virions rich in gH/gL/UL128-131 but low in gH/gL/gO could be overcome by treatment with the chemical fusogen polyethylene glycol (PEG), strongly arguing that gH/gL/gO provides the conserved herpesvirus gH/gL entry function of promoting gB-mediated fusion for entry into all cell types, whereas gH/gL/UL128-131 acts through a distinct mechanism to allow infection of select cell types.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8999-9009
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Virology
Volume89
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

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