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Front Biosci. 2002 Mar 1;7:d752-64.

Herpes simplex virus.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, 200 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) commonly causes human infections in the orofacial region (HSV-1) and in the genital region (HSV-2). Productive viral infection in mucosal epithelial cells may result in clinical symptoms and is followed by a latent infection within sensory neurons. During productive infection a large number of viral gene products are expressed while during latent infection few or no viral proteins are expressed. Reactivation from latency results in recurrent infections and disease at or near the primary site of infection. Understanding the details of the two stages of the HSV life cycle is a particular focus of current research on HSV. The virus interacts with and modifies numerous host cell functions in both epithelial and neuronal cells, and studies of HSV have enhanced our knowledge of many fundamental processes in eukaryotic cells. Ongoing research continues to uncover novel effects of HSV on cells, and a complete understanding of HSV infection during both productive and latent infection should allow the design of new antiviral agents and vaccines and increased knowledge of basic cell and molecular biology. This review article is designed to provide an introduction to HSV biology and key aspects of the infection cycle.

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