Publications by authors named "Leigh Zerboni"

43 Publications

The latency-associated transcript locus of herpes simplex virus 1 is a virulence determinant in human skin.

PLoS Pathog 2020 12 28;16(12):e1009166. Epub 2020 Dec 28.

Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, United States of America.

Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) infects skin and mucosal epithelial cells and then travels along axons to establish latency in the neurones of sensory ganglia. Although viral gene expression is restricted during latency, the latency-associated transcript (LAT) locus encodes many RNAs, including a 2 kb intron known as the hallmark of HSV-1 latency. Here, we studied HSV-1 infection and the role of the LAT locus in human skin xenografts in vivo and in cultured explants. We sequenced the genomes of our stock of HSV-1 strain 17syn+ and seven derived viruses and found nonsynonymous mutations in many viral proteins that had no impact on skin infection. In contrast, deletions in the LAT locus severely impaired HSV-1 replication and lesion formation in skin. However, skin replication was not affected by impaired intron splicing. Moreover, although the LAT locus has been implicated in regulating gene expression in neurones, we observed only small changes in transcript levels that were unrelated to the growth defect in skin, suggesting that its functions in skin may be different from those in neurones. Thus, although the LAT locus was previously thought to be dispensable for lytic infection, we show that it is a determinant of HSV-1 virulence during lytic infection of human skin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1009166DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7794027PMC
December 2020

Current In Vivo Models of Varicella-Zoster Virus Neurotropism.

Viruses 2019 05 31;11(6). Epub 2019 May 31.

Division of Microbiology, Tulane University, Tulane National Primate Research Center, Covington, LA 70433, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV), an exclusively human herpesvirus, causes chickenpox and establishes a latent infection in ganglia, reactivating decades later to produce zoster and associated neurological complications. An understanding of VZV neurotropism in humans has long been hampered by the lack of an adequate animal model. For example, experimental inoculation of VZV in small animals including guinea pigs and cotton rats results in the infection of ganglia but not a rash. The severe combined immune deficient human (SCID-hu) model allows the study of VZV neurotropism for human neural sub-populations. Simian varicella virus (SVV) infection of rhesus macaques (RM) closely resembles both human primary VZV infection and reactivation, with analyses at early times after infection providing valuable information about the extent of viral replication and the host immune responses. Indeed, a critical role for CD4 T-cell immunity during acute SVV infection as well as reactivation has emerged based on studies using RM. Herein we discuss the results of efforts from different groups to establish an animal model of VZV neurotropism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v11060502DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6631480PMC
May 2019

The C-terminus of varicella-zoster virus glycoprotein M contains trafficking motifs that mediate skin virulence in the SCID-human model of VZV pathogenesis.

Virology 2018 10 14;523:110-120. Epub 2018 Aug 14.

Departments of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, United States; Departments of Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, United States.

Knowledge about the function of varicella-zoster virus glycoprotein M is limited; the requirement of gM for skin and neural tropism are unknown. VZV gM contains two predicted YXXΦ trafficking motifs and a dileucine motif in the carboxyl-terminus. We constructed a recombinant VZV with gM truncated from the first YXXΦ and five additional viruses with YXXΦ tyrosine substitutions, alone and in combination with dileucine substitution. All recombinant viruses grew to high titer but mutation of the membrane-proximal YXXΦ motif reduced plaque size in cultured cells and altered gM localization. C-terminus truncation had a pronounced effect on virion morphogenesis and plaque size, but not on overall replication kinetics in vitro. Mutation of gM trafficking motifs and truncation attenuated replication in human skin xenografts in vivo; gM truncation did not alter neurotropism. Our results demonstrate that the gM C-terminus is dispensable for virus replication in cultured cells but is important for skin pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2018.08.003DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6143146PMC
October 2018

Age-Associated Differences in Infection of Human Skin in the SCID Mouse Model of Varicella-Zoster Virus Pathogenesis.

J Virol 2018 06 14;92(11). Epub 2018 May 14.

Department of Pediatrics; Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is the skin-tropic human alphaherpesvirus responsible for both varicella-zoster and herpes zoster. Varicella-zoster and herpes zoster skin lesions have similar morphologies, but herpes zoster occurs disproportionally in older individuals and is often associated with a more extensive local rash and severe zoster-related neuralgia. We hypothesized that skin aging could also influence the outcome of the anterograde axonal transport of VZV to skin. We utilized human skin xenografts maintained in immunodeficient (SCID) mice to study VZV-induced skin pathology in fetal and adult skin xenografts. Here we found that VZV replication is enhanced in skin from older compared to younger adults, correlating with clinical observations. In addition to measures of VZV infection, we examined the expression of type I interferon (IFN) pathway components in adult skin and investigated elements of the cutaneous proliferative and inflammatory response to VZV infection Our results demonstrated that VZV infection of adult skin triggers intrinsic IFN-mediated responses such as we have described in VZV-infected fetal skin xenografts, including MxA as well as promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML), in skin cells surrounding lesions. Further, we observed that VZV elicited altered cell signaling and proliferative and inflammatory responses that are involved in wound healing, driven by follicular stem cells. These cellular changes are consistent with VZV-induced activation of STAT3 and suggest that VZV exploits the wound healing process to ensure efficient delivery of the virus to keratinocytes. Adult skin xenografts offer an approach to further investigate VZV-induced skin pathologies Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is the agent responsible for both varicella-zoster and herpes zoster. Herpes zoster occurs disproportionally in older individuals and is often associated with a more extensive local rash and severe zoster-related neuralgia. To examine the effect of skin aging on VZV skin lesions, we utilized fetal and adult human skin xenografts maintained in immunodeficient (SCID) mice. We measured VZV-induced skin pathology, examined the expression of type I interferon (IFN) pathway components in adult skin, and investigated elements of the cutaneous proliferative and inflammatory response to VZV infection Our results demonstrate that characteristics of aging skin are preserved in xenografts; that VZV replication is enhanced in skin from older compared to younger adults, correlating with clinical observations; and that VZV infection elicits altered cell signaling and inflammatory responses. Adult skin xenografts offer an approach to further investigate VZV-induced skin pathologies .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00002-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5952162PMC
June 2018

Neuronal Subtype and Satellite Cell Tropism Are Determinants of Varicella-Zoster Virus Virulence in Human Dorsal Root Ganglia Xenografts In Vivo.

PLoS Pathog 2015 Jun 19;11(6):e1004989. Epub 2015 Jun 19.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, United States of America; Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, United States of America.

Varicella zoster virus (VZV), a human alphaherpesvirus, causes varicella during primary infection. VZV reactivation from neuronal latency may cause herpes zoster, post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) and other neurologic syndromes. To investigate VZV neuropathogenesis, we developed a model using human dorsal root ganglia (DRG) xenografts in immunodeficient (SCID) mice. The SCID DRG model provides an opportunity to examine characteristics of VZV infection that occur in the context of the specialized architecture of DRG, in which nerve cell bodies are ensheathed by satellite glial cells (SGC) which support neuronal homeostasis. We hypothesized that VZV exhibits neuron-subtype specific tropism and that VZV tropism for SGC contributes to VZV-related ganglionopathy. Based on quantitative analyses of viral and cell protein expression in DRG tissue sections, we demonstrated that, whereas DRG neurons had an immature neuronal phenotype prior to implantation, subtype heterogeneity was observed within 20 weeks and SGC retained the capacity to maintain neuronal homeostasis longterm. Profiling VZV protein expression in DRG neurons showed that VZV enters peripherin+ nociceptive and RT97+ mechanoreceptive neurons by both axonal transport and contiguous spread from SGC, but replication in RT97+ neurons is blocked. Restriction occurs even when the SGC surrounding the neuronal cell body were infected and after entry and ORF61 expression, but before IE62 or IE63 protein expression. Notably, although contiguous VZV spread with loss of SGC support would be predicted to affect survival of both nociceptive and mechanoreceptive neurons, RT97+ neurons showed selective loss relative to peripherin+ neurons at later times in DRG infection. Profiling cell factors that were upregulated in VZV-infected DRG indicated that VZV infection induced marked pro-inflammatory responses, as well as proteins of the interferon pathway and neuroprotective responses. These neuropathologic changes observed in sensory ganglia infected with VZV may help to explain the neurologic sequelae often associated with zoster and PHN.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004989DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4474629PMC
June 2015

Autophagic flux without a block differentiates varicella-zoster virus infection from herpes simplex virus infection.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015 Jan 22;112(1):256-61. Epub 2014 Dec 22.

Virology Laboratory, Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa Children's Hospital, Iowa City, IA 52242; and

Autophagy is a process by which misfolded and damaged proteins are sequestered into autophagosomes, before degradation in and recycling from lysosomes. We have extensively studied the role of autophagy in varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection, and have observed that vesicular cells are filled with >100 autophagosomes that are easily detectable after immunolabeling for the LC3 protein. To confirm our hypothesis that increased autophagosome formation was not secondary to a block, we examined all conditions of VZV infection as well as carrying out two assessments of autophagic flux. We first investigated autophagy in human skin xenografts in the severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model of VZV pathogenesis, and observed that autophagosomes were abundant in infected human skin tissues. We next investigated autophagy following infection with sonically prepared cell-free virus in cultured cells. Under these conditions, autophagy was detected in a majority of infected cells, but was much less than that seen after an infected-cell inoculum. In other words, inoculation with lower-titered cell-free virus did not reflect the level of stress to the VZV-infected cell that was seen after inoculation of human skin in the SCID mouse model or monolayers with higher-titered infected cells. Finally, we investigated VZV-induced autophagic flux by two different methods (radiolabeling proteins and a dual-colored LC3 plasmid); both showed no evidence of a block in autophagy. Overall, therefore, autophagy within a VZV-infected cell was remarkably different from autophagy within an HSV-infected cell, whose genome contains two modifiers of autophagy, ICP34.5 and US11, not present in VZV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1417878112DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4291665PMC
January 2015

Molecular mechanisms of varicella zoster virus pathogenesis.

Nat Rev Microbiol 2014 Mar 10;12(3):197-210. Epub 2014 Feb 10.

Departments of Pediatrics and of Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is the causative agent of varicella (chickenpox) and zoster (shingles). Investigating VZV pathogenesis is challenging as VZV is a human-specific virus and infection does not occur, or is highly restricted, in other species. However, the use of human tissue xenografts in mice with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) enables the analysis of VZV infection in differentiated human cells in their typical tissue microenvironment. Xenografts of human skin, dorsal root ganglia or foetal thymus that contains T cells can be infected with mutant viruses or in the presence of inhibitors of viral or cellular functions to assess the molecular mechanisms of VZV-host interactions. In this Review, we discuss how these models have improved our understanding of VZV pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro3215DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4066823PMC
March 2014

Identification of a hydrophobic domain in varicella-zoster virus ORF61 necessary for ORF61 self-interaction, viral replication, and skin pathogenesis.

J Virol 2013 Apr 23;87(7):4075-9. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.

The varicella-zoster virus (VZV) ORF61 protein is necessary for normal replication in vitro and virulence in human skin xenografts in the severe combined immunodeficiency mouse model in vivo. These experiments identify a hydrophobic domain that mediates ORF61 self-interaction. While not needed to inhibit host cell defenses, disruption of this domain (residues 250 to 320) severely impairs VZV growth, transactivation of the immediate early 63 and glycoprotein E genes, and the pathogenesis of VZV skin infection in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02963-12DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3624212PMC
April 2013

Herpes simplex virus 1 tropism for human sensory ganglion neurons in the severe combined immunodeficiency mouse model of neuropathogenesis.

J Virol 2013 Mar 26;87(5):2791-802. Epub 2012 Dec 26.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.

The tropism of herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) for human sensory neurons infected in vivo was examined using dorsal root ganglion (DRG) xenografts maintained in mice with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). In contrast to the HSV-1 lytic infectious cycle in vitro, replication of the HSV-1 F strain was restricted in human DRG neurons despite the absence of adaptive immune responses in SCID mice, allowing the establishment of neuronal latency. At 12 days after DRG inoculation, 26.2% of human neurons expressed HSV-1 protein and 13.1% expressed latency-associated transcripts (LAT). Some infected neurons showed cytopathic changes, but HSV-1, unlike varicella-zoster virus (VZV), only rarely infected satellite cells and did not induce fusion of neuronal and satellite cell plasma membranes. Cell-free enveloped HSV-1 virions were observed, indicating productive infection. A recombinant HSV-1-expressing luciferase exhibited less virulence than HSV-1 F in the SCID mouse host, enabling analysis of infection in human DRG xenografts for a 61-day interval. At 12 days after inoculation, 4.2% of neurons expressed HSV-1 proteins; frequencies increased to 32.1% at 33 days but declined to 20.8% by 61 days. Frequencies of LAT-positive neurons were 1.2% at 12 days and increased to 40.2% at 33 days. LAT expression remained at 37% at 61 days, in contrast to the decline in neurons expressing viral proteins. These observations show that the progression of HSV-1 infection is highly restricted in human DRG, and HSV-1 genome silencing occurs in human neurons infected in vivo as a consequence of virus-host cell interactions and does not require adaptive immune control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01375-12DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3571385PMC
March 2013

Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and survivin induction by varicella-zoster virus promote replication and skin pathogenesis.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012 Jan 21;109(2):600-5. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a human α-herpesvirus that causes varicella (chickenpox) during primary infection and zoster (shingles) upon reactivation. Like other viruses, VZV must subvert the intrinsic antiviral defenses of differentiated human cells to produce progeny virions. Accordingly, VZV inhibits the activation of the cellular transcription factors IFN regulatory factor 3 (IRF3) and signal transducers and activators of transcription 1 (STAT1), thereby downregulating antiviral factors, including IFNs. Conversely, in this study, we found that VZV triggers STAT3 phosphorylation in cells infected in vitro and in human skin xenografts in SCID mice in vivo and that STAT3 activation induces the anti-apoptotic protein survivin. Small-molecule inhibitors of STAT3 phosphorylation and survivin restrict VZV replication in vitro, and VZV infection of skin xenografts in vivo is markedly impaired by the administration of the phospho-STAT3 inhibitor S3I-201. STAT3 and survivin are required for malignant transformation caused by γ-herpesviruses, such as Kaposi's sarcoma virus. We show that STAT3 activation is also critical for VZV, a nononcogenic herpesvirus, via a survivin-dependent mechanism. Furthermore, STAT3 activation is critical for the life cycle of the virus because VZV skin infection is necessary for viral transmission and persistence in the human population. Therefore, we conclude that takeover of this major cell-signaling pathway is necessary, independent of cell transformation, for herpesvirus pathogenesis and that STAT3 activation and up-regulation of survivin is a common mechanism important for the pathogenesis of lytic as well as tumorigenic herpesviruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1114232109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3258638PMC
January 2012

Investigation of varicella-zoster virus neurotropism and neurovirulence using SCID mouse-human DRG xenografts.

J Neurovirol 2011 Dec 8;17(6):570-7. Epub 2011 Dec 8.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr., Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a medically important human alphaherpesvirus. Investigating pathogenic mechanisms that contribute to VZV neurovirulence are made difficult by a marked host restriction. Our approach to investigating VZV neurotropism and neurovirulence has been to develop a mouse-human xenograft model in which human dorsal root ganglia (DRG) are maintained in severe compromised immunodeficient (SCID) mice. In this review, we will describe our key findings using this model in which we have demonstrated that VZV infection of SCID DRG xenograft results in rapid and efficient spread, enabled by satellite cell infection and polykaryon formation, which facilitates robust viral replication and release of infectious virus. In neurons that persist following this acute replicative phase, VZV genomes are present at low frequency with limited gene transcription and no protein synthesis, a state that resembles VZV latency in the natural human host. VZV glycoprotein I and interaction between glycoprotein I and glycoprotein E are critical for neurovirulence. Our work demonstrates that the DRG model can reveal characteristics about VZV replication and long-term persistence of latent VZV genomes in human neuronal tissues, in vivo, in an experimental system that may contribute to our knowledge of VZV neuropathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13365-011-0066-xDOI Listing
December 2011

Apparent expression of varicella-zoster virus proteins in latency resulting from reactivity of murine and rabbit antibodies with human blood group a determinants in sensory neurons.

J Virol 2012 Jan 19;86(1):578-83. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.

Analyses of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) protein expression during latency have been discordant, with rare to many positive neurons detected. We show that ascites-derived murine and rabbit antibodies specific for VZV proteins in vitro contain endogenous antibodies that react with human blood type A antigens in neurons. Apparent VZV neuronal staining and blood type A were strongly associated (by a χ² test, α = 0.0003). Adsorption of ascites-derived monoclonal antibodies or antiserum with type A erythrocytes or the use of in vitro-derived VZV monoclonal antibodies eliminated apparent VZV staining. Animal-derived antibodies must be screened for anti-blood type A reactivity to avoid misidentification of viral proteins in the neurons of the 30 to 40% of individuals who are blood type A.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.05950-11DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3255922PMC
January 2012

Entrapment of viral capsids in nuclear PML cages is an intrinsic antiviral host defense against varicella-zoster virus.

PLoS Pathog 2011 Feb 3;7(2):e1001266. Epub 2011 Feb 3.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.

The herpesviruses, like most other DNA viruses, replicate in the host cell nucleus. Subnuclear domains known as promyelocytic leukemia protein nuclear bodies (PML-NBs), or ND10 bodies, have been implicated in restricting early herpesviral gene expression. These viruses have evolved countermeasures to disperse PML-NBs, as shown in cells infected in vitro, but information about the fate of PML-NBs and their functions in herpesvirus infected cells in vivo is limited. Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is an alphaherpesvirus with tropism for skin, lymphocytes and sensory ganglia, where it establishes latency. Here, we identify large PML-NBs that sequester newly assembled nucleocapsids (NC) in neurons and satellite cells of human dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and skin cells infected with VZV in vivo. Quantitative immuno-electron microscopy revealed that these distinctive nuclear bodies consisted of PML fibers forming spherical cages that enclosed mature and immature VZV NCs. Of six PML isoforms, only PML IV promoted the sequestration of NCs. PML IV significantly inhibited viral infection and interacted with the ORF23 capsid surface protein, which was identified as a target for PML-mediated NC sequestration. The unique PML IV C-terminal domain was required for both capsid entrapment and antiviral activity. Similar large PML-NBs, termed clastosomes, sequester aberrant polyglutamine (polyQ) proteins, such as Huntingtin (Htt), in several neurodegenerative disorders. We found that PML IV cages co-sequester HttQ72 and ORF23 protein in VZV infected cells. Our data show that PML cages contribute to the intrinsic antiviral defense by sensing and entrapping VZV nucleocapsids, thereby preventing their nuclear egress and inhibiting formation of infectious virus particles. The efficient sequestration of virion capsids in PML cages appears to be the outcome of a basic cytoprotective function of this distinctive category of PML-NBs in sensing and safely containing nuclear aggregates of aberrant proteins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1001266DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3033373PMC
February 2011

Varicella-zoster virus glycoprotein E is a critical determinant of virulence in the SCID mouse-human model of neuropathogenesis.

J Virol 2011 Jan 20;85(1):98-111. Epub 2010 Oct 20.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr., Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a neurotropic alphaherpesvirus. VZV infection of human dorsal root ganglion (DRG) xenografts in immunodeficient mice models the infection of sensory ganglia. We examined DRG infection with recombinant VZV (recombinant Oka [rOka]) and the following gE mutants: gEΔ27-90, gEΔCys, gE-AYRV, and gE-SSTT. gEΔ27-90, which lacks the gE domain that interacts with a putative receptor insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), replicated as extensively as rOka, producing infectious virions and significant cytopathic effects within 14 days of inoculation. Since neural cells express IDE, the gE/IDE interaction was dispensable for VZV neurotropism. In contrast, gEΔCys, which lacks gE/gI heterodimer formation, was significantly impaired at early times postinfection; viral genome copy numbers increased slowly, and infectious virus production was not detected until day 28. Delayed replication was associated with impaired cell-cell spread in ganglia, similar to the phenotype of a gI deletion mutant (rOkaΔgI). However, at later time points, infection of satellite cells and other supportive nonneuronal cells resulted in extensive DRG tissue damage and cell loss such that cytopathic changes observed at day 70 were more severe than those for rOka-infected DRG. The replication of gE-AYRV, which is impaired for trans-Golgi network (TGN) localization, and the replication of gE-SSTT, which contains mutations in an acidic cluster, were equivalent to that of rOka, causing significant cytopathic effects and infectious virus production by day 14; genome copy numbers were equivalent to those of rOka. These experiments suggest that the gE interaction with cellular IDE, gE targeting to TGN sites of virion envelopment, and phosphorylation at SSTT are dispensable for VZV DRG infection, whereas the gE/gI interaction is critical for VZV neurovirulence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01902-10DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3014186PMC
January 2011

Varicella-zoster virus T cell tropism and the pathogenesis of skin infection.

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 2010 ;342:189-209

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a medically important human alphaherpesvirus that causes varicella and zoster. VZV initiates primary infection by inoculation of the respiratory mucosa. In the course of primary infection, VZV establishes a life-long persistence in sensory ganglia; VZV reactivation from latency may result in zoster in healthy and immunocompromised patients. The VZV genome has at least 70 known or predicted open reading frames (ORFs), but understanding how these gene products function in virulence is difficult because VZV is a highly human-specific pathogen. We have addressed this obstacle by investigating VZV infection of human tissue xenografts in the severe combined immunodeficiency mouse model. In studies relevant to the pathogenesis of primary VZV infection, we have examined VZV infection of human T cell (thymus/liver) and skin xenografts. This work supports a new paradigm for VZV pathogenesis in which VZV T cell tropism provides a mechanism for delivering the virus to skin. We have also shown that VZV-infected T cells transfer VZV to neurons in sensory ganglia. The construction of infectious VZV recombinants that have deletions or targeted mutations of viral genes or their promoters and the evaluation of VZV mutants in T cell and skin xenografts has revealed determinants of VZV virulence that are important for T cell and skin tropism in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/82_2010_29DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4077053PMC
November 2010

Analysis of the functions of glycoproteins E and I and their promoters during VZV replication in vitro and in skin and T-cell xenografts in the SCID mouse model of VZV pathogenesis.

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 2010 ;342:129-46

Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

The two VZV glycoproteins, gE and gI, are encoded by genes that are designated open reading frames, ORF67 and ORF68, located in the short unique region of the VZV genome. These proteins have homologs in the other alphaherpesviruses. Like their homologues, VZV gE and gI exhibit prominent co-localization in infected cells and form heterodimers. However, VZV gE is much larger than its homologues because it has a unique N-terminal domain, consisting of 188 amino acids that are not present in these other gene products. VZV gE also differs from the related gE proteins, in that it is essential for viral replication. Targeted mutations of gE that are compatible with VZV replication in cultured cells have varying phenotypes in skin and T-cell xenografts in the SCID mouse model of VZV pathogenesis in vivo. While gI is dispensable for growth in cultured cells in vitro, this glycoprotein is essential for VZV infection of differentiated human skin and T cells in vivo. The promoter regions of gE and gI are regulated by the cellular transactivator, specificity protein factor 1 (Sp1) in combination with the major VZV transactivator in reporter construct experiments and some Sp1 promoter elements are important for VZV virulence in vivo. Further analysis of VZV gE and gI functions and their interactions with other viral and host cell proteins are important areas for studies of VZV replication and pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/82_2009_1DOI Listing
November 2010

Expression of varicella-zoster virus immediate-early regulatory protein IE63 in neurons of latently infected human sensory ganglia.

J Virol 2010 Apr 27;84(7):3421-30. Epub 2010 Jan 27.

Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, S-356, 300 Pasteur Dr., Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes varicella and establishes latency in sensory nerve ganglia, but the characteristics of VZV latency are not well defined. Immunohistochemical detection of the VZV immediate-early 63 (IE63) protein in ganglion neurons has been described, but there are significant discrepancies in estimates of the frequency of IE63-positive neurons, varying from a rare event to abundant expression. We examined IE63 expression in cadaver ganglia using a high-potency rabbit anti-IE63 antibody and corresponding preimmune serum. Using standard immunohistochemical techniques, we evaluated 10 ganglia that contained VZV DNA from seven individuals. These experiments showed that neuronal pigments were a confounding variable; however, by examining sections coded to prevent investigator bias and applying statistical analysis, we determined that IE63 protein, if present, is in a very small proportion of neurons (<2.8%). To refine estimates of IE63 protein abundance, we modified our protocol by incorporating a biological stain to exclude the pigment signal and evaluated 27 ganglia from 18 individuals. We identified IE63 protein in neurons within only one ganglion, in which VZV glycoprotein E and an immune cell infiltrate were also demonstrated. Antigen preservation was shown by detection of neuronal synaptophysin. These data provide evidence that the expression of IE63 protein, which has been referred to as a latency-associated protein, is rare. Refining estimates of VZV protein expression in neurons is important for developing a hypothesis about the mechanisms by which VZV latency may be maintained.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02416-09DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2838126PMC
April 2010

Functions of the unique N-terminal region of glycoprotein E in the pathogenesis of varicella-zoster virus infection.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2010 Jan 4;107(1):282-7. Epub 2009 Dec 4.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is an alphaherpesvirus that infects skin, lymphocytes, and sensory ganglia. VZV glycoprotein E (gE) has a unique N-terminal region (aa1-188), which is required for replication and includes domains involved in secondary envelopment, efficient cell-cell spread, and skin infection in vivo. The nonconserved N-terminal region also mediates binding to the insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), which is proposed to be a VZV receptor. Using viral mutagenesis to make the recombinant rOka-DeltaP27-G90, we showed that amino acids in this region are required for gE/IDE binding in infected cells; this deletion reduced cell-cell spread in vitro and skin infection in vivo. However, a gE point mutation, linker insertions, and partial deletions in the aa27-90 region, and deletion of a large portion of the unique N-terminal region, aa52-187, had similar or more severe effects on VZV replication in vitro and in vivo without disrupting the gE/IDE interaction. VZV replication in T cells in vivo was not impaired by deletion of gE aa27-90, suggesting that these gE residues are not essential for VZV T cell tropism. However, the rOka-DeltaY51-P187 mutant failed to replicate in T cell xenografts as well as skin in vivo. VZV tropism for T cells and skin, which is necessary for its life cycle in the human host, requires this nonconserved region of the N-terminal region of VZV gE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0912373107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2806775PMC
January 2010

Anti-glycoprotein H antibody impairs the pathogenicity of varicella-zoster virus in skin xenografts in the SCID mouse model.

J Virol 2010 Jan;84(1):141-52

Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection is usually mild in healthy individuals but can cause severe disease in immunocompromised patients. Prophylaxis with varicella-zoster immunoglobulin can reduce the severity of VZV if given shortly after exposure. Glycoprotein H (gH) is a highly conserved herpesvirus protein with functions in virus entry and cell-cell spread and is a target of neutralizing antibodies. The anti-gH monoclonal antibody (MAb) 206 neutralizes VZV in vitro. To determine the requirement for gH in VZV pathogenesis in vivo, MAb 206 was administered to SCID mice with human skin xenografts inoculated with VZV. Anti-gH antibody given at 6 h postinfection significantly reduced the frequency of skin xenograft infection by 42%. Virus titers, genome copies, and lesion size were decreased in xenografts that became infected. In contrast, administering anti-gH antibody at 4 days postinfection suppressed VZV replication but did not reduce the frequency of infection. The neutralizing anti-gH MAb 206 blocked virus entry, cell fusion, or both in skin in vivo. In vitro, MAb 206 bound to plasma membranes and to surface virus particles. Antibody was internalized into vacuoles within infected cells, associated with intracellular virus particles, and colocalized with markers for early endosomes and multivesicular bodies but not the trans-Golgi network. MAb 206 blocked spread, altered intracellular trafficking of gH, and bound to surface VZV particles, which might facilitate their uptake and targeting for degradation. As a consequence, antibody interference with gH function would likely prevent or significantly reduce VZV replication in skin during primary or recurrent infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01338-09DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2798403PMC
January 2010

Mutagenesis of varicella-zoster virus glycoprotein B: putative fusion loop residues are essential for viral replication, and the furin cleavage motif contributes to pathogenesis in skin tissue in vivo.

J Virol 2009 Aug 27;83(15):7495-506. Epub 2009 May 27.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

Glycoprotein B (gB), the most conserved protein in the family Herpesviridae, is essential for the fusion of viral and cellular membranes. Information about varicella-zoster virus (VZV) gB is limited, but homology modeling showed that the structure of VZV gB was similar to that of herpes simplex virus (HSV) gB, including the putative fusion loops. In contrast to HSV gB, VZV gB had a furin recognition motif ([R]-X-[KR]-R-|-X, where | indicates the position at which the polypeptide is cleaved) at residues 491 to 494, thought to be required for gB cleavage into two polypeptides. To investigate their contribution, the putative primary fusion loop or the furin recognition motif was mutated in expression constructs and in the context of the VZV genome. Substitutions in the primary loop, W180G and Y185G, plus the deletion mutation Delta491RSRR494 and point mutation 491GSGG494 in the furin recognition motif did not affect gB expression or cellular localization in transfected cells. Infectious VZV was recovered from parental Oka (pOka)-bacterial artificial chromosomes that had either the Delta491RSRR494 or 491GSGG494 mutation but not the point mutations W180G and Y185G, demonstrating that residues in the primary loop of gB were essential but gB cleavage was not required for VZV replication in vitro. Virion morphology, protein localization, plaque size, and replication were unaffected for the pOka-gBDelta491RSRR494 or pOka-gB491GSGG494 virus compared to pOka in vitro. However, deletion of the furin recognition motif caused attenuation of VZV replication in human skin xenografts in vivo. This is the first evidence that cleavage of a herpesvirus fusion protein contributes to viral pathogenesis in vivo, as seen for fusion proteins in other virus families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00400-09DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2708640PMC
August 2009

Deletion of the first cysteine-rich region of the varicella-zoster virus glycoprotein E ectodomain abolishes the gE and gI interaction and differentially affects cell-cell spread and viral entry.

J Virol 2009 Jan 22;83(1):228-40. Epub 2008 Oct 22.

Institut Pasteur, Départment de Virologie, 25 rue du Dr Roux, 75015 Paris, France.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) glycoprotein E (gE) is the most abundant glycoprotein in infected cells and, in contrast to those of other alphaherpesviruses, is essential for viral replication. The gE ectodomain contains a unique N-terminal region required for viral replication, cell-cell spread, and secondary envelopment; this region also binds to the insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), a proposed VZV receptor. To identify new functional domains of the gE ectodomain, the effect of mutagenesis of the first cysteine-rich region of the gE ectodomain (amino acids 208 to 236) was assessed using VZV cosmids. Deletion of this region was compatible with VZV replication in vitro, but cell-cell spread of the rOka-DeltaCys mutant was reduced significantly. Deletion of the cysteine-rich region abolished the binding of the mutant gE to gI but not to IDE. Preventing gE binding to gI altered the pattern of gE expression at the plasma membrane of infected cells and the posttranslational maturation of gI and its incorporation into viral particles. In contrast, deletion of the first cysteine-rich region did not affect viral entry into human tonsil T cells in vitro or into melanoma cells infected with cell-free VZV. These experiments demonstrate that gE/gI heterodimer formation is essential for efficient cell-cell spread and incorporation of gI into viral particles but that it is dispensable for infectious varicella-zoster virion formation and entry into target cells. Blocking gE binding to gI resulted in severe impairment of VZV infection of human skin xenografts in SCIDhu mice in vivo, documenting the importance of cell fusion mediated by this complex for VZV virulence in skin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00913-08DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2612333PMC
January 2009

Development of recombinant varicella-zoster viruses expressing luciferase fusion proteins for live in vivo imaging in human skin and dorsal root ganglia xenografts.

J Virol Methods 2008 Dec 24;154(1-2):182-93. Epub 2008 Sep 24.

Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, United States.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a host specific human pathogen that has been studied using human xenografts in SCID mice. Live whole-animal imaging is an emerging technique to measure protein expression in vivo using luminescence. Currently, it has only been possible to determine VZV protein expression in xenografts postmortem. Therefore, to measure immediate early (IE63) and late (glycoprotein E [gE]) protein expression in vivo viruses expressing IE63 or gE as luciferase fusion proteins were generated. Viable recombinant viruses pOka-63-luciferase and pOka-63/70-luciferase, which had luciferase genes fused to ORF63 and its duplicate ORF70, or pOka-gE-CBR were recovered that expressed IE63 or gE as fusion proteins and generated luminescent plaques. In contrast to pOka-63/70-luciferase viruses, the luciferase gene was rapidly lost in vitro when fused to a single copy of ORF63 or ORF68. IE63 expression was successfully measured in human skin and dorsal root ganglia xenografts infected with the genomically stable pOka-63/70-luciferase viruses. The progress of VZV infection in dorsal root ganglia xenografts was delayed in valacyclovir treated mice but followed a similar trend in untreated mice when the antiviral was withdrawn 28 days post-inoculation. Thus, IE63-luciferase fusion proteins were effective for investigating VZV infection and antiviral activity in human xenografts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jviromet.2008.07.033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2657092PMC
December 2008

Functions of Varicella-zoster virus ORF23 capsid protein in viral replication and the pathogenesis of skin infection.

J Virol 2008 Oct 6;82(20):10231-46. Epub 2008 Aug 6.

Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr., S-354, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

The assembly of herpesvirus capsids is a complex process involving interactions of multiple proteins in the cytoplasm and in the nucleus. Based on comparative genome analyses, varicella-zoster virus (VZV) open reading frame 23 (ORF23) encodes a conserved capsid protein, referred to as VP26 (UL35) in other alphaherpesviruses. Mutagenesis using a VZV bacterial artificial chromosome system showed that ORF23 was dispensable for replication in vitro. However, the absence of ORF23 disrupted capsid assembly in a melanoma cell line. Expression of ORF23 as a red fluorescent protein (RFP) fusion protein appeared to have a dominant negative effect on replication that was rescued by ORF23 expression from a nonnative site in the VZV genome. In contrast to its VP26 homolog, ORF23 has an intrinsic nuclear localization capacity that was mapped to an SRSRVV motif at residues 229 to 234 in the extreme C terminus of ORF23. In addition, coexpression with ORF23 resulted in nuclear import of the major capsid protein, ORF40. VZV ORF33.5 also translocated ORF40, which may provide a redundant mechanism in vitro but appears insufficient to overcome the dominant negative effect of the monomeric RFP-ORF23 (mRFP23) fusion protein. ORF23 was required for VZV infection of human skin xenografts, indicating that ORF33.5 does not compensate for lack of ORF23 in vivo. These observations suggest a model of VZV capsid assembly in which nuclear transport of the major capsid protein and associated proteins requires ORF23 during VZV replication in the human host. If so, ORF23 expression could be a target for a novel antiviral drug against VZV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01890-07DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2566272PMC
October 2008

Functions of the ORF9-to-ORF12 gene cluster in varicella-zoster virus replication and in the pathogenesis of skin infection.

J Virol 2008 Jun 9;82(12):5825-34. Epub 2008 Apr 9.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

The gene cluster composed of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) open reading frame 9 (ORF9) to ORF12 encodes four putative tegument proteins and is highly conserved in most alphaherpesviruses. In these experiments, the genes within this cluster were deleted from the VZV parent Oka (POKA) individually or in combination, and the consequences for VZV replication were evaluated with cultured cells in vitro and with human skin xenografts in SCID mice in vivo. As has been reported for ORF10, ORF11 and ORF12 were dispensable for VZV replication in melanoma and human embryonic fibroblast cells. In contrast, deletion of ORF9 was incompatible with the recovery of infectious virus. ORF9 localized to the virion tegument and formed complexes with glycoprotein E, which is an essential protein, in VZV-infected cells. Recombinants lacking ORF10 and ORF11 (POKADelta10/11), ORF11 and ORF12 (POKADelta11/12), or ORF10, ORF11 and ORF12 (POKADelta10/11/12) were viable in cultured cells. Their growth kinetics did not differ from those of POKA, and nucleocapsid formation and virion assembly were not disrupted. In addition, these deletion mutants showed no differences compared to POKA in infectivity levels for primary human tonsil T cells. Deletion of ORF12 had no effect on skin infection, whereas replication of POKADelta11, POKADelta10/11, and POKADelta11/12 was severely reduced, and no virus was recovered from skin xenografts inoculated with POKADelta10/11/12. These results indicate that with the exception of ORF9, the individual genes within the ORF9-to-ORF12 gene cluster are dispensable and can be deleted simultaneously without any apparent effect on VZV replication in vitro but that the ORF10-to-ORF12 cluster is essential for VZV virulence in skin in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00303-08DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2395146PMC
June 2008

Mechanisms of varicella-zoster virus neuropathogenesis in human dorsal root ganglia.

J Virol 2008 Apr 6;82(8):3971-83. Epub 2008 Feb 6.

Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr., Grant Bldg., Room S356, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a human alphaherpesvirus that infects sensory ganglia and reactivates from latency to cause herpes zoster. VZV replication was examined in human dorsal root ganglion (DRG) xenografts in mice with severe combined immunodeficiency using multiscale correlative immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. These experiments showed the presence of VZV genomic DNA, viral proteins, and virion production in both neurons and satellite cells within DRG. Furthermore, the multiscale analysis of VZV-host cell interactions revealed virus-induced cell-cell fusion and polykaryon formation between neurons and satellite cells during VZV replication in DRG in vivo. Satellite cell infection and polykaryon formation in neuron-satellite cell complexes provide mechanisms to amplify VZV entry into neuronal cell bodies, which is necessary for VZV transfer to skin in the affected dermatome during herpes zoster. These mechanisms of VZV neuropathogenesis help to account for the often severe neurologic consequences of herpes zoster.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02592-07DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2292995PMC
April 2008

Aberrant infection and persistence of varicella-zoster virus in human dorsal root ganglia in vivo in the absence of glycoprotein I.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2007 Aug 20;104(35):14086-91. Epub 2007 Aug 20.

Departments of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes varicella, establishes latency in sensory ganglia, and reactivates as herpes zoster. Human dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) xenografts in immunodeficient mice provide a model for evaluating VZV neuropathogenesis. Our investigation of the role of glycoprotein I (gI), which is dispensable in vitro, examines the functions of a VZV gene product during infection of human neural cells in vivo. Whereas intact recombinant Oka (rOka) initiated a short replicative phase followed by persistence in DRGs, the gI deletion mutant, rOkaDeltagI, showed prolonged replication with no transition to persistence up to 70 days after infection. Only a few varicella-zoster nucleocapsids and cytoplasmic virions were observed in neurons, and the major VZV glycoprotein, gE, was retained in the rough endoplasmic reticulum in the absence of gI. VZV neurotropism was not disrupted when DRG xenografts were infected with rOka mutants lacking gI promoter elements that bind cellular transactivators, specificity factor 1 (Sp1) and upstream stimulatory factor (USF). Because gI is essential and Sp1 and USF contribute to VZV pathogenesis in skin and T cells in vivo, these DRG experiments indicate that the genetic requirements for VZV infection are less stringent in neural cells in vivo. The observations demonstrate that gI is important for VZV neurotropism and suggest that a strategy to reduce neurovirulence by deleting gI could prolong active infection in human DRGs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0706023104DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1955823PMC
August 2007

Cellular and viral factors regulate the varicella-zoster virus gE promoter during viral replication.

J Virol 2007 Oct 18;81(19):10258-67. Epub 2007 Jul 18.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr., Rm. G312, Stanford, CA 94305-5208, USA.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) glycoprotein E (gE) is essential for viral replication and is involved in cell-to-cell spread, secondary envelopment, and entry. We created a set of mutations in the gE promoter to investigate the role of viral and cellular transcriptional factors in regulation of the gE promoter. Deletion or point mutation of the two Sp1 sites in the gE promoter abolished Sp1 binding and IE62-mediated transactivation of the gE promoter in vitro. Incorporation of the deletion or the point mutations disrupting both of the Sp1 binding sites into the VZV genome was not compatible with viral replication. A point mutation altering the atypical Sp1 binding site was lethal, while altering the second site impaired VZV replication significantly, indicating functional differences between the two Sp1 binding sites. Deletions in the gE promoter that abolished putative binding sites for cellular transcriptional factors other than Sp1, identified by bioinformatics analysis, were inserted in the VZV genome. Replication of the viruses with mutations of the gE promoter did not differ from control recombinants in melanoma cells or primary human tonsil T cells in vitro. These deletions did not affect infection of human skin xenografts in SCIDhu mice. These results indicate that Sp1 is required for IE62-mediated transactivation of the gE promoter and that this transcriptional factor appears to be the only cellular factor essential for regulation of the gE promoter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00553-07DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2045477PMC
October 2007

ORF66 protein kinase function is required for T-cell tropism of varicella-zoster virus in vivo.

J Virol 2006 Dec 13;80(23):11806-16. Epub 2006 Sep 13.

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5208, USA.

Several functions have been attributed to the serine/threonine protein kinase encoded by open reading frame 66 (ORF66) of varicella-zoster virus (VZV), including modulation of the apoptosis and interferon pathways, down-regulation of major histocompatibility complex class I cell surface expression, and regulation of IE62 localization. The amino acid sequence of the ORF66 protein contains a recognizable conserved kinase domain. Point mutations were introduced into conserved protein kinase motifs to evaluate their importance to ORF66 protein functions. Two substitution mutants were generated, including a G102A substitution, which blocked autophosphorylation and altered IE62 localization, and an S250P substitution, which had no effect on either autophosphorylation or IE62 localization. Both kinase domain mutants grew to titers equivalent to recombinant parent Oka (pOka) in vitro. pOka66G102A had slightly reduced growth in skin, which was comparable to the reduction observed when ORF66 translation was prevented by stop codon insertions in pOka66S. In contrast, infection of T-cell xenografts with pOka66G102A was associated with a significant decrease in infectious virus production equivalent to the impaired T-cell tropism found with pOka66S infection of T-cell xenografts in vivo. Disrupting kinase activity with the G102A mutation did not alter IE62 cytoplasmic localization in VZV-infected T cells, suggesting that decreased T-cell tropism is due to other ORF66 protein functions. The G102A mutation reduced the antiapoptotic effects of VZV infection of T cells. These experiments indicate that the T-cell tropism of VZV depends upon intact ORF66 protein kinase function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00466-06DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1642581PMC
December 2006

Varicella-zoster virus open reading frame 10 is a virulence determinant in skin cells but not in T cells in vivo.

J Virol 2006 Apr;80(7):3238-48

Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5208, USA.

The open reading frame 10 (ORF10) of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) encodes a tegument protein that enhances transactivation of VZV genes and has homology to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) VP16. While VP16 is essential for HSV replication, ORF10 is dispensable for vaccine OKA (VOKA) growth in vitro. We used parent OKA (POKA) cosmids to delete ORF10, producing POKA delta10; point mutations that disrupted the acidic activation domain and the putative motif for binding human cellular factor 1 (HCF-1) in ORF10 protein yielded POKA10-Phe28Ala, POKA10-Phe28Ser, and POKA10-mHCF viruses. Deleting ORF10 or mutating these two functional domains had no effect on VZV replication, immediate-early gene transcription, or virion assembly in vitro. However, deleting ORF10 reduced viral titers and the extent of cutaneous lesions significantly in SCIDhu skin xenografts in vivo compared to POKA. Epidermal cells infected with POKA delta10 had significantly fewer DNA-containing nucleocapsids and complete virions compared to POKA; extensive aggregates of intracytoplasmic viral particles were also observed. Altering the activation or the putative HCF-1 domains of ORF10 protein had no consequences for VZV replication in vivo. Thus, the decreased pathogenic potential of POKA delta10 in skin could not be attributed to absence of these ORF10 protein functions. In contrast to skin cells, deleting ORF10 did not impair VZV T-cell tropism in vivo, as assessed by infectious virus yields. We conclude that ORF10 protein is required for efficient VZV virion assembly and is a specific determinant of VZV virulence in epidermal and dermal cells in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.80.7.3238-3248.2006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1440391PMC
April 2006