Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) is one of eight herpesviruses known to infect humans and vertebrates. VZV only affects humans and commonly causes chickenpox in children teens and young adults and herpes zoster (shingles) in adults and rarely in children. VZV is known by many names including chickenpox virus varicella virus zoster virus and human herpesvirus type 3 (HHV-3).
VZV infects the nerves and causes a wide variety of symptoms. After the primary infection (chickenpox) the virus goes dormant in the nerves including the cranial nerve ganglia dorsal root ganglia and autonomic ganglia. Many years after the patient has recovered from chickenpox VZV can reactivate to cause a number of neurologic conditions
gE is envelope glycoprotein that binds to the potential host cell entry receptor IDE.
In epithelial cells the heterodimer gE/gI is required for the cell-to-cell spread of the virus by sorting nascent virions to cell junctions. Once the virus reaches the cell junctions virus particles can spread to adjacent cells extremely rapidly through interactions with cellular receptors that accumulate at these junctions. Implicated in basolateral spread in polarized cells. In neuronal cells gE/gI is essential for the anterograde spread of the infection throughout the host nervous system. Together with US9 the heterodimer gE/gI is involved in the sorting and transport of viral structural components toward axon tips.
The heterodimer gE/gI serves as a receptor for the Fc part of host IgG. Dissociation of gE/gI from IgG occurs at acidic pH. May thus be involved in anti-VZV antibodies bipolar bridging followed by intracellular endocytosis and degradation thereby interfering with host IgG-mediated immune responses .
gE consists of 623 amino acids with 70 kDa mass. It is phosphorylated on serines within the acidic cluster. Phosphorylation determines whether endocytosed viral gE traffics to the trans-Golgi network or recycles to the cell membrane.