The late stages of assembly of herpes simplex virus (HSV) and other herpesviruses are not well understood. Acquisition of the final virion envelope apparently involves interactions between viral nucleocapsids coated with tegument proteins and the cytoplasmic domains of membrane glycoproteins. This promotes budding of virus particles into cytoplasmic vesicles derived from the trans-Golgi network or endosomes. The identities of viral membrane glycoproteins and tegument proteins involved in these processes are not well known. Here, we report that HSV mutants lacking two viral glycoproteins, gD and gE, accumulated large numbers of unenveloped nucleocapsids in the cytoplasm. These aggregated capsids were immersed in an electron-dense layer that appeared to be tegument. Few or no enveloped virions were observed. More subtle defects were observed with an HSV unable to express gD and gI. A triple mutant lacking gD, gE, and gI exhibited more severe defects in envelopment. We concluded that HSV gD and the gE/gI heterodimeric complex act in a redundant fashion to anchor the virion envelope onto tegument-coated capsids. In the absence of either one of these HSV glycoproteins, envelopment proceeds; however, without both gD and gE, or gE/gI, there is profound inhibition of cytoplasmic envelopment.
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