Crystal structure of the N-terminal half of the traffic controller UL37 from Herpes Simplex virus Type 1.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Virol (2017)


<p>Inner tegument protein UL37 is conserved among all three subfamilies of herpesviruses. Studies of UL37 homologs from two alphaherpesviruses, Herpes Simplex virus Type 1 (HSV-1) and pseudorabies virus (PRV), have suggested that UL37 plays an essential albeit poorly defined role in intracellular capsid trafficking. At the same time, HSV and PRV homologs cannot be swapped, which suggests that in addition to a conserved function, UL37 homologs may also have divergent virus-specific functions. Accurate dissection of UL37 functions requires detailed maps in the form of atomic-resolution structures. Previously, we reported the crystal structure of the N-terminal half of UL37 (UL37N) from PRV. Here, we report the crystal structure of HSV-1 UL37N. Comparison of the two structures reveals that UL37 homologs differ in their overall shapes, distribution of surface charges, and the location of projecting loops. In contrast, the previously identified R2 surface region is structurally conserved. We propose that within the N-terminal half of UL37, functional conservation is centered within the R2 surface region whereas divergent structural elements pinpoint regions mediating virus-specific functions and may engage different binding partners. Together, the two structures can now serve as templates for a structure-guided exploration of both conserved and virus-specific functions of UL37.IMPORTANCE The ability to move efficiently within host cell cytoplasm is essential for replication in all viruses. It is especially important in the neuroinvasive alphaherpesviruses, such as the human Herpes Simplex Viruses 1 and 2 (HSV-1, 2) and veterinarian pseudorabies virus (PRV), that infect the peripheral nervous system and have to travel long distances along axons. Capsid movement in these viruses is controlled by capsid-associated tegument proteins, yet their specific roles have not yet been defined. Systematic exploration of the roles of tegument proteins in capsid trafficking requires detailed navigational charts in the form of their three-dimensional structures. Here, we determined the crystal structure of the N-terminal half of a conserved tegument protein UL37 from HSV-1. This structure, along with our previously reported structure of UL37 homolog from PRV, provides a much needed 3-dimensional template for the dissection of both conserved and virus-specific functions of UL37 in intracellular capsid trafficking.</p>