Transneuronal Spread of Alpha Herpesvirus Infection
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Presented by the Microbiology Section
Lynn Enquist, PhD
Editor In Chief, Journal of Virology
The neuronal spread of infection of alpha herpesviruses is controlled by unknown mechanisms. In the natural host, primary infection always leads to invasion of the peripheral nervous system, but rarely results in extensive invasion of the central nervous system. After reactivation of latent infection in the peripheral nervous system, virions are produced and shed from epithelial surfaces, but rarely invade the central nervous system. We have been studying two aspects of the general problem. First, using GFP and mRFP fusion proteins, we have used video confocal microscopy to assess mechanisms that influence spread of Pseudorabies (PRV) virion components within axons. Second, is development of an in vitro cell culture system that enables us for the first time to study transneuronal spread from neurons to neurons as well as neuron to non-neuronal cells similar to what happens after reactivation and spread to epithelial surfaces. These systems duplicate all the known in vivo correlates of transneuronal spread and provides the opportunity to do both quantitative and qualitative assessment of spread of PRV infection in and between neurons.