Thymidine kinase-negative herpes simplex virus 1 can efficiently establish persistent infection in neural tissues of nude mice

Chih Yu Huang, Hui Wen Yao, Li Chiu Wang, Fang Hsiu Shen, Sheng Min Hsu, Shun Hua Chen

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) establishes latency in neural tissues of immunocompetent mice but persists in both peripheral and neural tissues of lymphocyte-deficient mice. Thymidine kinase (TK) is believed to be essential for HSV-1 to persist in neural tissues of immunocompromised mice, because infectious virus of a mutant with defects in both TK and UL24 is detected only in peripheral tissues, but not in neural tissues, of severe combined immunodeficiency mice (T. Valyi-Nagy, R. M. Gesser, B. Raengsakulrach, S. L. Deshmane, B. P. Randazzo, A. J. Dillner, and N. W. Fraser, Virology 199:484-490, 1994, .1994.1150). Here we find infiltration of CD4 and CD8 T cells in peripheral and neural tissues of mice infected with a TK-negative mutant. We therefore investigated the significance of viral TK and host T cells for HSV-1 to persist in neural tissues using three genetically engineered mutants with defects in only TK or in both TK and UL24 and two strains of nude mice. Surprisingly, all three mutants establish persistent infection in up to 100% of brain stems and 93% of trigeminal ganglia of adult nude mice at 28 days postinfection, as measured by the recovery of infectious virus. Thus, in mouse neural tissues, host T cells block persistent HSV-1 infection, and viral TK is dispensable for the virus to establish persistent infection. Furthermore, we found 30- to 200-fold more virus in neural tissues than in the eye and detected glycoprotein C, a true late viral antigen, in brainstem neurons of nude mice persistently infected with the TK-negative mutant, suggesting that adult mouse neurons can support the replication of TK-negative HSV-1.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01979-16
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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