Bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1) glycoprotein H (gH) is a structural component of the virion which forms a complex with glycoprotein gL. To study the role of BHV-1 gH in the virus infectious cycle, a gH null mutant was constructed in which the gH coding sequences were deleted and replaced by the Escherichia coli lacZ cassette. The BHV-1 gH null mutant was propagated in trans-complementing MDBK cells, stably transfected with plasmid pMEP4 containing the BHV-1 gH gene under the control of the inducible mouse metallothionein promoter. Experiments with the BHV-1 gH null mutant showed that gH is essential in the infectious cycle of the virus and is specifically involved in virus entry and cell-to-cell spread. The lack of infectivity of virions devoid of gH is not due to a defect in attachment. Moreover, PEG-induced fusion of virions to target cells provides evidence that BHV-1 gH is required for virion penetration.


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