Using atomic force microscopy imaging and nanoindentation measurements, we investigated the effect of the minor capsid proteins pUL17 and pUL25 on the structural stability of icosahedral herpes simplex virus capsids. pUL17 and pUL25, which form the capsid vertex-specific component (CVSC), particularly contributed to capsid resilience along the 5-fold and 2-fold but not along the 3-fold icosahedral axes. Our detailed analyses, including quantitative mass spectrometry of the protein composition of the capsids, revealed that both pUL17 and pUL25 are required to stabilize the capsid shells at the vertices. This indicates that herpesviruses withstand the internal pressure that is generated during DNA genome packaging by locally reinforcing the mechanical sturdiness of the vertices, the most stressed part of the capsids.
- herpes simplex virus