Distinct domains in ORF52 tegument protein mediate essential functions in murine gammaherpesvirus 68 virion tegumentation and secondary envelopment

Lili Wang, Haitao Guo, Nichole Reyes, Shaoying Lee, Eric Bortz, Fengli Guo, Ren Sun, Liang Tong, Hongyu Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus are etiologically associated with several types of human malignancies. However, as these two human gammaherpesviruses do not replicate efficiently in cultured cells, the morphogenesis of gammaherpesvirus virions is poorly understood. Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV-68) provides a tractable model to define common, conserved features of gammaherpesvirus biology. ORF52 of MHV-68 is conserved among gammaherpesviruses. We have previously shown that this tegument protein is essential for the envelopment and egress of viral particles and solved the crystal structure of ORF52 dimers. To more closely examine its role in virion maturation, we performed immunoelectron microscopy of MHV-68-infected cells and found that ORF52 localized to both mature, extracellular virions and immature viral particles in the cytoplasm. ORF52 consists of threeα-helices followed by oneβ-strand. To understand the structural requirements for ORF52 function, we constructed mutants of ORF52 and examined their ability to complement an ORF52-null MHV-68 virus. Mutations in conserved residues in the N-terminalα1-helix and C terminus, or deletion of theα2-helix, resulted in a loss-offunction phenotype. Furthermore, theα1-helix was crucial for the predominantly punctate cytoplasmic localization of ORF52, while theα2-helix was a key domain for ORF52 dimerization. Immunoprecipitation experiments demonstrated that ORF52 interacts with another MHV-68 tegument protein, ORF42; however, a single point mutation in R95 in the C terminus of ORF52 led to the loss of this interaction. Moreover, the homologues of MHV-68 ORF52 in Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and Epstein-Barr virus complement the defect in ORF52-null MHV-68 and interact with MHV-68 ORF52. Taken together, these data uncover the relationship between theα-helical structure and the molecular basis for ORF52 function. This is the first structurebased functional domain mapping study for an essential gammaherpesvirus tegument protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1348-1357
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


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