We studied intracellular localization of the UL31 protein of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) in infected and transfected cells. The UL31 protein localized diffusely throughout the nucleus in infected Vero cells and the distribution patterns of the UL31 protein appeared to be different from those of either replication protein ICP8 or capsid protein ICP35. In transfected Vero cells it localized diffusely throughout the nucleus except the nucleolus at early times after transfection. At very low efficiency, it accumulated in the nucleolus. At intermediate times after transfection, the UL31 protein showed punctate staining in the nucleus. These punctate forms fused and became larger. At later times after transfection, granular forms further fused and a nuclear diffuse pattern virtually disappeared. We also constructed five N and C terminal deletion mutants of the UL31 protein for transfection assays and showed that the region containing amino acids 44 to 110 was important for nuclear and nucleolar localization. Moreover, green fluorescent protein (GFP)-targeting experiments showed that the UL31 protein was able to transport nonnuclear GFP to the nucleus and nucleolus as a fusion protein.
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