Integrity of the linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton is required for efficient herpesvirus nuclear egress
Herpesvirus capsids assemble in the nucleus while final virion maturation proceeds in the cytoplasm. This requires that newly formed nucleocapsids cross the nuclear envelope (NE), which occurs by budding at the inner nuclear membrane (INM), release of the primary enveloped virion into the perinuclear space (PNS), and subsequent rapid fusion with the outer nuclear membrane (ONM). During this process the NE remains intact, even at late stages of infection. In addition, the spacing between the INM and ONM is maintained, as is that between the primary virion envelope and nuclear membranes. The linker of nucleoskeleton and cytoskeleton (LINC) complex consists of INM proteins with a luminal SUN (Sad1/UNC-84 homology) domain connected to ONM proteins with a KASH (Klarsicht, ANC-1, SYNE homology) domain, and is thought to be responsible for spacing the nuclear membranes. To investigate the role of the LINC complex during herpesvirus infection we generated cell lines constitutively expressing dominant-negative (dn) forms of SUN1 and SUN2. Ultrastructural analyses revealed a significant expansion of the PNS and the contiguous intracytoplasmic lumen most likely representing endoplasmic reticulum (ER), especially in cells expressing dn-SUN2. After infection, primary virions accumulated in these expanded luminal regions, also very distant from the nucleus. The importance of the LINC complex was also confirmed by reduced progeny virus titers in cells expressing dn-SUN2. These data show that the intact LINC complex is required for efficient nuclear egress of herpesviruses, likely acting to promote fusion of primary enveloped virions with the ONM.
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