Assembly of herpesvirus nucleocapsids shares significant similarities with the assembly of tailed dsDNA bacteriophages; however, important differences exist. A unique feature of herpesviruses is the presence of different mature capsid forms in the host cell nucleus during infection. These capsid forms, referred to as A-, B-, and C-capsids, represent empty capsids, scaffold containing capsids and viral DNA containing capsids, respectively. The C-capsids are the closest in form to those encapsidated into mature virions and are considered precursors to infectious virus. The evidence supporting A- and B-capsids as either abortive forms or assembly intermediates has been lacking. Interaction of specific capsid forms with viral tegument proteins has been proposed to be a mechanism for quality control at the point of nuclear egress of mature particles. Here, we will review the available literature on these capsid forms and present data to debate whether A- and B-capsids play an important or an extraneous role in the herpesvirus life cycle.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited