Fluorescent protein fusions to herpesvirus capsids have proven to be a valuable method to study virus particle transport in living cells. Fluorescent protein fusions to the amino terminus of small capsid protein VP26 are the most widely used method to visualize pseudorabies virus (PRV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) particles in living cells. However, these fusion proteins do not incorporate to full occupancy and have modest effects on virus replication and pathogenesis. Recent cryoelectron microscopy studies have revealed that herpesvirus small capsid proteins bind to capsids via their amino terminus, whereas the carboxy terminus is unstructured and therefore may better tolerate fluorescent protein fusions. Here, we describe a new recombinant PRV expressing a carboxy-terminal VP26-mCherry fusion. Compared to previously characterized viruses expressing amino-terminal fusions, this virus expresses more VP26 fusion protein in infected cells and incorporates more VP26 fusion protein into virus particles, and individual virus particles exhibit brighter red fluorescence. We performed single-particle tracking of fluorescent virus particles in primary neurons to measure anterograde and retrograde axonal transport, demonstrating the usefulness of this novel VP26-mCherry fusion for the study of viral intracellular transport.IMPORTANCE Alphaherpesviruses are among the very few viruses that are adapted to invade the mammalian nervous system. Intracellular transport of virus particles in neurons is important, as this process underlies both mild peripheral nervous system infection and severe spread to the central nervous system. VP26, the small capsid protein of HSV and PRV, was one of the first herpesvirus proteins to be fused to a fluorescent protein. Since then, these capsid-tagged virus mutants have become a powerful tool to visualize and track individual virus particles. Improved capsid tags will facilitate fluorescence microscopy studies of virus particle intracellular transport, as a brighter particle will improve localization accuracy of individual particles and allow for shorter exposure times, reducing phototoxicity and improving the time resolution of particle tracking in live cells.
Alpha herpesvirus genomes encode the capacity to establish quiescent infections (i.e. latency) in the peripheral nervous system for the life of their hosts. Multiple times during latency, viral genomes can reactivate to start a productive infection, enabling spread of progeny virions to other hosts. Replication of alpha herpesviruses is well studied in cultured cells and many aspects of productive replication have been identified. However, many questions remain concerning how a productive or a quiescent infection is established. While infections in vivo often result in latency, infections of dissociated neuronal cultures in vitro result in a productive infection unless lytic viral replication is suppressed by DNA polymerase inhibitors or interferon. Using primary peripheral nervous system neurons cultured in modified Campenot tri-chambers, we previously reported that reactivateable, quiescent infections by pseudorabies virus (PRV) can be established in the absence of any inhibitor. Such infections were established in cell bodies only when physically isolated axons were infected at a very low multiplicity of infection (MOI). In this report, we developed a complementation assay in compartmented neuronal cultures to investigate host and viral factors in cell bodies that prevent establishment of quiescent infection and promote productive replication of axonally delivered genomes (i.e. escape from silencing). Stimulating protein kinase A (PKA) signaling pathways in isolated cell bodies, or superinfecting cell bodies with either UV-inactivated PRV or viral light particles (LP) promoted escape from genome silencing and prevented establishment of quiescent infection but with different molecular mechanisms. Activation of PKA in cell bodies triggers a slow escape from silencing in a cJun N-terminal kinase (JNK) dependent manner. However, escape from silencing is induced rapidly by infection with UVPRV or LP in a PKA- and JNK-independent manner. We suggest that viral tegument proteins delivered to cell bodies engage multiple signaling pathways that block silencing of viral genomes delivered by low MOI axonal infection.
The mesolimbic dopamine pathway receives inputs from numerous regions of the brain as part of a neural system that detects rewarding stimuli and coordinates a behavioral response. The capacity to simultaneously map and molecularly define the components of this complex multisynaptic circuit would thus advance our understanding of the determinants of motivated behavior. To accomplish this, we have constructed pseudorabies virus (PRV) strains in which viral propagation and fluorophore expression are activated only after exposure to Cre recombinase. Once activated in Cre-expressing neurons, the virus serially labels chains of presynaptic neurons. Dual injection of GFP and mCherry tracing viruses simultaneously illuminates nigrostriatal and mesolimbic circuitry and shows no overlap, demonstrating that PRV transmission is confined to synaptically connected neurons. To molecularly profile mesolimbic dopamine neurons and their presynaptic inputs, we injected Cre-conditional GFP virus into the NAc of (anti-GFP) nanobody-L10 transgenic mice and immunoprecipitated translating ribosomes from neurons infected after retrograde tracing. Analysis of purified RNA revealed an enrichment of transcripts expressed in neurons of the dorsal raphe nuclei and lateral hypothalamus that project to the mesolimbic dopamine circuit. These studies identify important inputs to the mesolimbic dopamine pathway and further show that PRV circuit-directed translating ribosome affinity purification can be broadly applied to identify molecularly defined neurons comprising complex, multisynaptic circuits.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT The mesolimbic dopamine circuit integrates signals from key brain regions to detect and respond to rewarding stimuli. To further define this complex multisynaptic circuit, we constructed a panel of Cre recombinase-activated pseudorabies viruses (PRVs) that enabled retrograde tracing of neural inputs that terminate on Cre-expressing neurons. Using these viruses and Retro-TRAP (translating ribosome affinity purification), a previously reported molecular profiling method, we developed a novel technique that provides anatomic as well as molecular information about the neural components of polysynaptic circuits. We refer to this new method as PRV-Circuit-TRAP (PRV circuit-directed TRAP). Using it, we have identified major projections to the mesolimbic dopamine circuit from the lateral hypothalamus and dorsal raphe nucleus and defined a discrete subset of transcripts expressed in these projecting neurons, which will allow further characterization of this important pathway. Moreover, the method we report is general and can be applied to the study of other neural circuits.
Neuroinvasive herpesviruses have evolved to efficiently infect and establish latency in neurons. The nervous system has limited capability to regenerate, so immune responses therein are carefully regulated to be nondestructive, with dependence on atypical intrinsic and innate defenses. In this article we review studies of some of these noncanonical defense pathways and how herpesvirus gene products counter them, highlighting the contributions that primary neuronal in vitro models have made to our understanding of this field.
Enquist LW, Dermody TS, DiMaio D. Introduction. Annu Rev Virol. 2016;3 (1) :v.
Bioinspired organ-level in vitro platforms are emerging as effective technologies for fundamental research, drug discovery, and personalized healthcare. In particular, models for nervous system research are especially important, due to the complexity of neurological phenomena and challenges associated with developing targeted treatment of neurological disorders. Here we introduce an additive manufacturing-based approach in the form of a bioinspired, customizable 3D printed nervous system on a chip (3DNSC) for the study of viral infection in the nervous system. Micro-extrusion 3D printing strategies enabled the assembly of biomimetic scaffold components (microchannels and compartmented chambers) for the alignment of axonal networks and spatial organization of cellular components. Physiologically relevant studies of nervous system infection using the multiscale biomimetic device demonstrated the functionality of the in vitro platform. We found that Schwann cells participate in axon-to-cell viral spread but appear refractory to infection, exhibiting a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 1.4 genomes per cell. These results suggest that 3D printing is a valuable approach for the prototyping of a customized model nervous system on a chip technology.
The brain influences glucose homeostasis, partly by supplemental control over insulin and glucagon secretion. Without this central regulation, diabetes and its complications can ensue. Yet, the neuronal network linking to pancreatic islets has never been fully mapped. Here, we refine this map using pseudorabies virus (PRV) retrograde tracing, indicating that the pancreatic islets are innervated by efferent circuits that emanate from the hypothalamus. We found that the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus (ARC), ventromedial nucleus (VMN), and lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) significantly overlap PRV and the physiological glucose-sensing enzyme glucokinase. Then, experimentally lowering glucose sensing, specifically in the ARC, resulted in glucose intolerance due to deficient insulin secretion and no significant effect in the VMN, but in the LHA it resulted in a lowering of the glucose threshold that improved glucose tolerance and/or improved insulin sensitivity, with an exaggerated counter-regulatory response for glucagon secretion. No significant effect on insulin sensitivity or metabolic homeostasis was noted. Thus, these data reveal novel direct neuronal effects on pancreatic islets and also render a functional validation of the brain-to-islet neuronal map. They also demonstrate that distinct regions of the hypothalamus differentially control insulin and glucagon secretion, potentially in partnership to help maintain glucose homeostasis and guard against hypoglycemia.
Herpesviruses are large DNA viruses that utilize the host nucleus for genome replication as well as capsid assembly. After maturation, these 125 nm large capsid assemblies must cross the nucleoplasm to engage the nuclear envelope and bud into the cytoplasm. Here we summarize our recent findings how this motility is facilitated. We suggest that herpesvirus induced nuclear remodeling allows capsids to move by diffusion in the nucleus and not by motor-dependent transport.
Alpha herpesviruses, such as herpes simplex virus and pseudorabies virus (PRV), are neuroinvasive dsDNA viruses that establish life-long latency in peripheral nervous system (PNS) neurons of their native hosts. Following reactivation, the infection can spread back to the initial mucosal site of infection or, in rare cases, to the central nervous system with usually serious outcomes. During entry and egress, viral capsids depend on microtubule-based molecular motors for efficient and fast transport. In axons of PNS neurons, cytoplasmic dynein provides force for retrograde movements towards the soma, and kinesins move cargo in the opposite, anterograde direction. The dynamic properties of virus particles in cells can be imaged by fluorescent protein fusions to the small capsid protein VP26, which are incorporated into capsids. However, single-color fluorescent protein tags fail to distinguish virus inoculum from progeny. Therefore, we established a dual-color system by growing a recombinant PRV expressing a red fluorescent VP26 fusion (PRV180) on a stable cell line expressing a green VP26 fusion (PK15-mNG-VP26). The resulting dual-color virus preparation (PRV180G) contains capsids tagged with both red and green fluorescent proteins, and 97% of particles contain detectable levels of mNG-VP26. After replication in neuronal cells, all PRV180G progeny exclusively contain mRFP-VP26 tagged capsids. We used PRV180G for an analysis of axonal capsid transport dynamics in PNS neurons. Fast dual-color total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, single particle tracking and motility analyses reveal robust, bidirectional capsid motility mediated by cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin during entry, whereas egressing progeny particles are exclusively transported by kinesins.
IMPORTANCE: Alpha herpesviruses are neuroinvasive viruses that infect the peripheral nervous system (PNS) of infected hosts as an integral part of their life cycle. Establishment of a quiescent or latent infection in PNS neurons is a hallmark of most alpha herpesviruses. Spread of infection to the central nervous system is surprisingly rare in natural hosts, but can be fatal. Pseudorabies virus (PRV) is a broad host range, swine alpha herpesvirus that enters neuronal cells and utilizes intracellular transport processes to establish infection and to spread between cells. By using a virus preparation with fluorescent viral capsids that change color depending on the stage of the infectious cycle, we find that, during entry, axons of PNS neurons support robust, bidirectional capsid motility, similar to cellular cargo, towards the cell body. In contrast, progeny particles appear to be transported unidirectionally by kinesin motors towards distal egress sites.
UNLABELLED: Many molecular and cell biological details of the alphaherpesvirus assembly and egress pathway remain unclear. Recently we developed a live-cell fluorescence microscopy assay of pseudorabies virus (PRV) exocytosis, based on total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy and a virus-encoded pH-sensitive fluorescent probe. Here, we use this assay to distinguish three classes of viral exocytosis in a nonpolarized cell type: (i) trafficking of viral glycoproteins to the plasma membrane, (ii) exocytosis of viral light particles, and (iii) exocytosis of virions. We find that viral glycoproteins traffic to the cell surface in association with constitutive secretory Rab GTPases and exhibit free diffusion into the plasma membrane after exocytosis. Similarly, both virions and light particles use these same constitutive secretory mechanisms for egress from infected cells. Furthermore, we show that viral light particles are distinct from cellular exosomes. Together, these observations shed light on viral glycoprotein trafficking steps that precede virus particle assembly and reinforce the idea that virions and light particles share a biogenesis and trafficking pathway.
IMPORTANCE: The alphaherpesviruses, including the important human pathogens herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), HSV-2, and varicella-zoster virus (VZV), are among the few viruses that have evolved to exploit the mammalian nervous system. These viruses typically cause mild recurrent herpetic or zosteriform lesions but can also cause debilitating herpes encephalitis, more frequently in very young, old, immunocompromised, or nonnatural hosts. Importantly, many of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of viral assembly and egress remain unclear. This study addresses the trafficking of viral glycoproteins to the plasma membrane, exocytosis of light particles, and exocytosis of virions. Trafficking of glycoproteins affects immune evasion and pathogenesis and may precede virus particle assembly. The release of light particles may also contribute to immune evasion and pathogenesis. Finally, exocytosis of virions is important to understand, as this final step in the virus replication cycle produces infectious extracellular particles capable of spreading to the next round of host cells.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 stimulates type I IFN expression through the cGAS-STING-TBK1 signaling axis. Macrophages have recently been proposed to be an essential source of IFN during viral infection. However, it is not known how HSV-1 inhibits IFN expression in this cell type. Here, we show that HSV-1 inhibits type I IFN induction through the cGAS-STING-TBK1 pathway in human macrophages, in a manner dependent on the conserved herpesvirus protein ICP27. This viral protein was expressed de novo in macrophages with early nuclear localization followed by later translocation to the cytoplasm where ICP27 prevented activation of IRF3. ICP27 interacted with TBK1 and STING in a manner that was dependent on TBK1 activity and the RGG motif in ICP27. Thus, HSV-1 inhibits expression of type I IFN in human macrophages through ICP27-dependent targeting of the TBK1-activated STING signalsome.
Spinal cord and peripheral nerve injuries require the regeneration of nerve fibers across the lesion site for successful recovery. Providing guidance cues and soluble factors to promote neurite outgrowth and cell survival can enhance repair. The extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a key role in tissue repair by controlling cell adhesion, motility, and growth. In this study, we explored the ability of a mesenchymal ECM to support neurite outgrowth from neurons in the superior cervical ganglia (SCG). Length and morphology of neurites extended on a decellularized fibroblast ECM were compared to those on substrates coated with laminin, a major ECM protein in neural tissue, or fibronectin, the main component of a mesenchymal ECM. Average radial neurite extension was equivalent on laminin and on the decellularized ECM, but contrasted with the shorter, curved neurites observed on the fibronectin substrate. Differences between neurites on fibronectin and on other substrates were confirmed by fast Fourier transform analyses. To control the direction of neurite outgrowth, we developed an ECM with linearly aligned fibril organization by orienting the fibroblasts that deposit the matrix on a polymeric surface micropatterned with a striped chemical interface. Neurites projected from SCGs appeared to reorient in the direction of the pattern. These results highlight the ability of a mesenchymal ECM to enhance neurite extension and to control the directional outgrowth of neurites. This micropatterned decellularized ECM architecture has potential as a regenerative microenvironment for nerve repair.
UNLABELLED: Infection by alphaherpesviruses, including herpes simplex virus (HSV) and pseudorabies virus (PRV), typically begins at epithelial surfaces and continues into the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Inflammatory responses are induced at the infected peripheral site prior to invasion of the PNS. When the peripheral tissue is first infected, only the innervating axons are exposed to this inflammatory milieu, which includes the interferons (IFNs). The fundamental question is how do PNS cell bodies respond to these distant, potentially damaging events experienced by axons. Using compartmented cultures that physically separate neuron axons from cell bodies, we found that pretreating isolated axons with beta interferon (IFN-β) or gamma interferon (IFN-γ) significantly diminished the number of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and PRV particles moving in axons toward the cell bodies in a receptor-dependent manner. Exposing axons to IFN-β induced STAT1 phosphorylation (p-STAT1) only in axons, while exposure of axons to IFN-γ induced p-STAT1 accumulation in distant cell body nuclei. Blocking transcription in cell bodies eliminated antiviral effects induced by IFN-γ, but not those induced by IFN-β. Proteomic analysis of IFN-β- or IFN-γ-treated axons identified several differentially regulated proteins. Therefore, unlike treatment with IFN-γ, IFN-β induces a noncanonical, local antiviral response in axons. The activation of a local IFN response in axons represents a new paradigm for cytokine control of neuroinvasion.
IMPORTANCE: Neurons are highly polarized cells with long axonal processes that connect to distant targets. PNS axons that innervate peripheral tissues are exposed to various situations that follow infection, inflammation, and damage of the tissue. After viral infection in the periphery, axons represent potential front-line barriers to PNS infection and damage. Indeed, most viral infections do not spread to the PNS, yet the mechanisms responsible are not well studied. We devised an experimental system to study how axons respond to inflammatory cytokines that would be produced by infected tissues. We found that axons respond differentially to type I and type II interferons. The response to type I interferon (IFN-β) is a rapid axon-only response. The response to type II interferon (IFN-γ) involves long-distance signaling to the PNS cell body. These responses to two interferons erect an efficient and rapid barrier to PNS infection.
The use of viruses as transneuronal tracers has become an increasingly powerful technique for defining the synaptic organization of neural networks. Although a number of recombinant alpha herpesviruses are known to spread selectively in the retrograde direction through neural circuits only one strain, the H129 strain of herpes simplex virus type 1, is reported to selectively spread in the anterograde direction. However, it is unclear from the literature whether there is an absolute block or an attenuation of retrograde spread of H129. Here, we demonstrate efficient anterograde spread, and temporally delayed retrograde spread, of H129 and three novel recombinants. In vitro studies revealed no differences in anterograde and retrograde spread of parental H129 and its recombinants through superior cervical ganglion neurons. In vivo injections of rat striatum revealed a clear bias of anterograde spread, although evidence of deficient retrograde transport was also present. Evidence of temporally delayed retrograde transneuronal spread of H129 in the retina was observed following injection of the lateral geniculate nucleus. The data also demonstrated that three novel recombinants efficiently express unique fluorescent reporters and have the capacity to infect the same neurons in dual infection paradigms. From these experiments we conclude that H129 and its recombinants not only efficiently infect neurons through anterograde transneuronal passage, but also are capable of temporally delayed retrograde transneuronal spread. In addition, the capacity to produce dual infection of projection targets following anterograde transneuronal passage provides an important addition to viral transneuronal tracing technology.
Neuroinvasive viral infections invade the nervous system, often eliciting serious disease and death. Members of four viral families are both neuroinvasive and capable of transmitting progeny virions or virion components within the long neuronal extensions known as axons. Axons provide physical structures that enable viral infection to spread within the host while avoiding extracellular immune responses. Technological advances in the analysis of in vivo neural circuits, neuronal culturing, and live imaging of fluorescent fusion proteins have enabled an unprecedented view into the steps of virion assembly, transport, and egress involved in axonal spread. In this review we summarize the literature supporting anterograde (axon to cell) spread of viral infection, describe the various strategies of virion transport, and discuss the effects of spread on populations of neuroinvasive viruses.
UNLABELLED: Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a highly neurotropic virus that can cause infections in both the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. Several studies of VZV reactivation in the peripheral nervous system (herpes zoster) have been published, while exceedingly few investigations have been carried out in a human brain. Notably, there is no animal model for VZV infection of the central nervous system. In this report, we characterized the cellular environment in the temporal lobe of a human subject who recovered from focal VZV encephalitis. The approach included not only VZV DNA/RNA analyses but also a delineation of infected cell types (neurons, microglia, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes). The average VZV genome copy number per cell was 5. Several VZV regulatory and structural gene transcripts and products were detected. When colocalization studies were performed to determine which cell types harbored the viral proteins, the majority of infected cells were astrocytes, including aggregates of astrocytes. Evidence of syncytium formation within the aggregates included the continuity of cytoplasm positive for the VZV glycoprotein H (gH) fusion-complex protein within a cellular profile with as many as 80 distinct nuclei. As with other causes of brain injury, these results suggested that astrocytes likely formed a defensive perimeter around foci of VZV infection (astrogliosis). Because of the rarity of brain samples from living humans with VZV encephalitis, we compared our VZV results with those found in a rat encephalitis model following infection with the closely related pseudorabies virus and observed similar perimeters of gliosis.
IMPORTANCE: Investigations of VZV-infected human brain from living immunocompetent human subjects are exceedingly rare. Therefore, much of our knowledge of VZV neuropathogenesis is gained from studies of VZV-infected brains obtained at autopsy from immunocompromised patients. These are not optimal samples with which to investigate a response by a human host to VZV infection. In this report, we examined both flash-frozen and paraffin-embedded formalin-fixed brain tissue of an otherwise healthy young male with focal VZV encephalitis, most likely acquired from VZV reactivation in the trigeminal ganglion. Of note, the cellular response to VZV infection mimicked the response to other causes of trauma to the brain, namely, an ingress of astrocytes and astrogliosis around an infectious focus. Many of the astrocytes themselves were infected; astrocytes aggregated in clusters. We postulate that astrogliosis represents a successful defense mechanism by an immunocompetent human host to eliminate VZV reactivation within neurons.
In the nearly two decades since the popularization of green fluorescent protein (GFP), fluorescent protein-based methodologies have revolutionized molecular and cell biology, allowing us to literally see biological processes as never before. Naturally, this revolution has extended to virology in general, and to the study of alpha herpesviruses in particular. In this review, we provide a compendium of reported fluorescent protein fusions to herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and pseudorabies virus (PRV) structural proteins, discuss the underappreciated challenges of fluorescent protein-based approaches in the context of a replicating virus, and describe general strategies and best practices for creating new fluorescent fusions. We compare fluorescent protein methods to alternative approaches, and review two instructive examples of the caveats associated with fluorescent protein fusions, including describing several improved fluorescent capsid fusions in PRV. Finally, we present our future perspectives on the types of powerful experiments these tools now offer.
Viruses are intracellular parasites that can only replicate and spread in cells of susceptible hosts. Alpha herpesviruses (α-HVs) contain double-stranded DNA genomes of at least 120 kb, encoding for 70 or more genes. The viral genome is contained in an icosahedral capsid that is surrounded by a proteinaceous tegument layer and a lipid envelope. Infection starts in epithelial cells and spreads to the peripheral nervous system. In the natural host, α-HVs establish a chronic latent infection that can be reactivated and rarely spread to the CNS. In the nonnatural host, viral infection will in most cases spread to the CNS with often fatal outcome. The host response plays a crucial role in the outcome of viral infection. α-HVs do not encode all the genes required for viral replication and spread. They need a variety of host gene products including RNA polymerase, ribosomes, dynein, and kinesin. As a result, the infected cell is dramatically different from the uninfected cell revealing a complex and dynamic interplay of viral and host components required to complete the virus life cycle. In this review, we describe the pivotal contribution of MS-based proteomics studies over the past 15 years to understand the complicated life cycle and pathogenesis of four α-HV species from the alphaherpesvirinae subfamily: Herpes simplex virus-1, varicella zoster virus, pseudorabies virus and bovine herpes virus-1. We describe the viral proteome dynamics during host infection and the host proteomic response to counteract such pathogens.