The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) latency-associated transcript (LAT) gene is essential for efficient spontaneous reactivation in the rabbit ocular model of HSV-1 latency and reactivation. LAT is also the only viral gene abundantly expressed during latency. Rabbits were ocularly infected with the wild-type HSV-1 strain McKrae or the McKrae-derived LAT null mutant dLAT2903. Serum neutralizing antibody titers were determined at various times during acute and latent infection. The neutralizing antibody titers induced by both viruses increased and were similar throughout the first 45 days after infection (P > 0.05). However, by day 59 postinfection (approximately 31 to 45 days after latency had been established), the neutralizing antibody titers induced by wild-type virus and dLAT2903 diverged significantly (P = 0.0005). The dLAT2903-induced neutralizing antibody titers decreased, while the wild- type virus-induced neutralizing antibody titers continued to increase. A rescuant of dLAT2903, in which spontaneous reactivation was fully restored, induced wild-type neutralizing antibody levels on day 59 postinfection. A second LAT mutant with impaired spontaneous reactivation had neutralizing antibody levels comparable to those of dLAT2903. In contrast to the results obtained in rabbits, in mice, neutralizing antibody titers did not increase over time during latency with any of the viruses. Since LAT is expressed in both rabbits and mice during latency, the difference in neutralizing antibody titers between these animals is unlikely to be due to expression of a LAT protein during latency. In contrast, LAT-positive (LAT+), but not LAT- negative (LAT-), viruses undergo efficient spontaneous reactivation in rabbits, while neither LAT+ nor LAT- viruses undergo efficient spontaneous reactivation in mice. Thus, the increase in neutralizing antibody titers in rabbits latently infected with LAT+ viruses may have been due to continued restimulation of the immune system by spontaneously reactivating virus.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science