Intracellular transport and maturation pathway of human herpesvirus 6

Maria Rosaria Torrisi, Massimo Gentile, Giorgia Cardinali, Mara Cirone, Claudia Zompetta, Lavinia V. Lotti, Luigi Frati, Alberto Faggioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A peculiar characteristic of cells infected with human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6) is the absence of viral glycoproteins on the plasma membrane, which may reflect an atypical intracellular transport of the virions and/or the viral glycoproteins, different from that of the other members of the herpesvirus family. To investigate the maturation pathway of HHV-6 in the human T lymphoid cell line HSB-2, we used lectin cytochemistry and immunogold labeling combined with several electron microscopical techniques, such as ultrathin frozen sections, postembedding, and fracture-label. Immunolabeling with anti-gp116 and anti-gp82-gp105 monoclonal antibodies revealed that the viral glycoproteins are undetectable on nuclear membranes and that at the inner nuclear membrane nucleocapsids acquire a primary envelope lacking viral glycoproteins. After de-envelopment, cytoplasmic nucleocapsids acquire a thick tegument and a secondary envelope with viral glycoproteins at the level of neo-formed annulate lamellae or at the cis-side of the Golgi complex. Cytochemical labeling using helix pomatia lectin revealed that the newly acquired secondary viral envelopes contain intermediate forms of glycocomponents, suggesting a sequential glycosylation of the virions during their transit through the Golgi area before their final release into the extracellular space. Immunogold labeling also showed that the viral glycoproteins, which are not involved in the budding process, reach and accumulate in the endosomal/lysosomal compartment. Pulse-chase analysis indicated degradation of the gp116, consistent with its endosomal localization and with the absence of viral glycoproteins on the cell surface of the infected cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-471
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 10 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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