Previous studies have shown that the initial interaction of herpes simplex virus (HSV) with cells is binding to heparan sulphate and that HSV-1 glycoprotein C (gC) is principally responsible for this binding. Although gC-negative viral mutants are impaired for binding and entry, they retain significant infectivity. The purpose of the studies reported here was to explore the requirements for infectivity of gC-negative HSV-1 mutants. We found that absence or alteration of cell surface heparan sulphate significantly reduced the binding of gC-negative mutant virus and rendered cells resistant to infection, as shown previously for the wild-type virus. We isolated a recombinant double-mutated HSV strain that produces virions devoid of both of the known heparin-binding glycoproteins, gB and gC. The drastically impaired binding of these mutant virions to cells, relative to gC-negative and wild-type virions, indicates that gB mediates the binding of gC-negative virions to cells. Thus at least two HSV glycoproteins can independently mediate the binding of HSV to cell surface heparan sulphate to start the process of viral entry into cells.
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