The Knowns and Unknowns of Herpesvirus Nuclear Egress

Nuclear egress of herpesvirus capsids across the intact nuclear envelope is an exceptional vesicle-mediated nucleocytoplasmic translocation resulting in the delivery of mature herpesvirus capsids into the cytosol. Budding of the (nucleo)capsid at and scission from the inner nuclear membrane (INM) is mediated by the dimeric viral nuclear egress complex (NEC) resulting in a transiently enveloped virus particle in the perinuclear space followed by fusion of the primary envelope with the outer nuclear membrane (ONM). The NEC oligomerizes into a honeycomb-shaped coat underlining the INM to induce membrane curvature and scission. Mutational analyses complemented structural data defining functionally important regions. Questions remain, including where and when the NEC is formed and how membrane curvature is mediated, vesicle formation is regulated, and directionality is secured. The composition of the primary enveloped virion and the machinery mediating fusion of the primary envelope with the ONM is still debated. While NEC-mediated budding apparently follows a highly conserved mechanism, species and/or cell type–specific differences complicate understanding of later steps.



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