Enveloped, spherical to pleomorphic, 150-200 nm in diameter, T=16 icosahedral symmetry. The capsid consists of 162 capsomers and is surrounded by an amorphous tegument.
Monopartite, linear, dsDNA genome of 152 kb. The genome contains terminal and internal reiterated sequences.
All genes are transcribed by the host RNA polymerase II. and most mRNAs are unspliced. There are three temporal classes of genes: immediate-early (alpha), early (beta) and late (gamma). The immediate-early genes are transcribed immediately after infection to take control of cell defense and to activate early genes. These encode the proteins necessary for the viral DNA replication. The late genes mostly encode structural proteins. Latent genes can stop the replicative process at the early step. Certain proteins are downregulated translationaly by a leaky scanning from an upstream ORF.
- Attachment of the viral gB, gC, gD and gH proteins to host receptors mediates endocytosis of the virus into the host cell.
- Fusion with the plasma membrane to release the core and the tegument proteins into the host cytoplasm.
- The capsid is transported to the nuclear pore where viral DNA is released into the nucleus.
- Transcription of immediate early genes which promote transcription of early genes and protect the virus against innate host immunity.
- Transcription of early viral mRNA by host polymerase II, encoding proteins involved in replication of the viral DNA.
- A first round of circular genome amplification occurs by bidirectional replication
- Synthesis of linear concatemer copies of viral DNA by rolling circle.
- Transcription of late mRNAs by host polymerase II, encoding structural proteins.
- Assembly of the virus in nuclear viral factories and budding through the inner lamella of the nuclear membrane which has been modified by the insertion of herpes glycoproteins, throughout the Golgi and final release at the plasma membrane.
: replication of circular viral episome in tandem with the host cell DNA using the host cell replication machinery.