Herpes simplex virus (HSV) entry into cells is triggered by the binding of envelope glycoprotein D (gD) to a specific receptor, such as nectin-1 or herpesvirus entry mediator (HVEM), resulting in activation of the fusion effectors gB and gH and virus penetration. Here we report the identification of a hyperactive gB allele, D285N/A549T, selected by repeat passage of a gD mutant virus defective for nectin-1 binding through cells that express a gD-binding-impaired mutant nectin-1. The gB allele in a wild-type virus background enabled the use of other nectins as virus entry receptors. In addition, combination of the mutant allele with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-retargeted gD gene yielded dramatically increased EGFR-specific virus entry compared to retargeted virus carrying wild-type gB. Entry of the gB mutant virus into nectin-1-bearing cells was markedly accelerated compared to that of wild-type virus, suggesting that the gB mutations affect a rate-limiting step in entry. Our observations indicate that ineffective gD activation can be complemented by hypersensitization of a downstream component of the entry cascade to gD signaling.
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