The human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) UL75 gene product is the homologue of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) glycoprotein H (gH), a virion glycoprotein that is essential for infectivity and which is conserved among members of the alpha-, beta- and gamma-herpesviruses. It has previously been shown that HSV-1 gH forms a stable complex with HSV-1 gL, the product of the UL1 gene, and the formation of this complex facilitates the cell surface expression of gH. None of the open reading frames within the HCMV genome encode a product with discernible sequence homology with HSV-1 gL, but an examination of the arrangement of conserved genes in HCMV suggested that the UL115 gene is a ‘positional homologue’ of HSV-1 UL1 which, like UL1, encodes a small secreted glycoprotein. Co-expression of HCMV gH (the UL75 gene product) and the UL115 gene product revealed that these proteins form a disulphide-linked complex and that the formation of this complex results in cell surface expression of gH. This complex is analogous to the gH:gL complex of HSV-1 and the HCMV UL115 gene product is therefore the functional homologue of HSV-1 gL.


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