Viral Cell Biology

NEC helps herpesvirus escape from nucleus

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Science  11 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6193, pp. 176-177
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6193.176-d

Viruses must move out of their host cells before they can infect new ones. To make the break, newly created viruses form infectious virus particles by enshrouding themselves in the host cell's membrane, which eventually pinches off in a process called scission. For herpesviruses, this “budding” occurs in the inner nuclear membrane and requires a special protein tool, called a nuclear egress protein complex (NEC). Bigalke et al. asked whether the NEC itself tells the membrane to bud and pinch off, or whether it needs to recruit host-cell proteins to get the message across. Using only purified NEC and lipids, the authors found that NEC works alone, by forming a coat-like hexagonal array inside the budding membrane. This array forms a scaffold for the bud and helps the neck of the budding point narrow so scission occurs.

Herpesvirus virion

PHOTO: LINDA M. STANNARD/UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN/SCIENCE SOURCE

Nat. Commun. 10.1038/ncomms5131 (2014).

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