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Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) encodes accessory glycoproteins that are dispensable for virus growth in nonpolarized cells in culture. We report that CMV deletion mutants lacking the gene for accessory glycoprotein US9 in the unique short component of the viral genome are impaired in plaque formation in polarized human retinal pigment epithelial (ARPE-19) cells. Comparison of CMV deletion mutants in US9 with herpes simplex virus type 1 deletion mutants lacking glycoproteins gE and gI showed that both of these mutants are impaired in altering junctional complexes and increasing paracellular permeability in polarized ARPE-19 cells cultured on permeable filter supports. Results of functional studies indicate that CMV US9 and homologs of gE have analogous roles in promoting virus spread across lateral membranes of polarized epithelial cells.