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J Gen Virol. 2006 Dec;87(Pt 12):3483-94.

Early herpes simplex virus type 1 infection is dependent on regulated Rac1/Cdc42 signalling in epithelial MDCKII cells.

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Max-Planck-Institute for Neurological Research, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.


The aim of this study was to understand how molecular determinants of epithelial cells influence initial infection by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Upon infection of the epithelial MDCKII cell line, enhanced association of virus particles with cells forming actin protrusions was observed, suggesting a putative role of actin dynamics in HSV-1 infection. Thus, the impact of the small Rho-like GTPases Rac1, Cdc42 and RhoA acting as key regulators of actin dynamics was addressed. Endogenous Rac1 and Cdc42 were temporarily activated at 15 and 30 min after HSV-1 infection. When constitutively active Cdc42 or Rac1 mutants were expressed transiently, a significant decrease in infectivity was observed, whereas expression of RhoA mutants had no influence. Furthermore, dominant-negative Cdc42 led to decreased infectivity, whereas dominant-negative Rac1 had no effect. So far, the study of potential effectors indicated that Rac1/Cdc42 mutants inhibited infectivity independently of p21-activated kinase (Pak1). The inhibitory effect of Rac1/Cdc42 mutant expression on HSV-1 infection was characterized further and it was found that binding, internalization and transport of HSV-1 were not affected by expression of Rac1/Cdc42 mutants. Thus, these results provide the first evidence for a role of Rac1/Cdc42 signalling during early HSV-1 infection and suggest a mechanism relying on virus-induced regulation of Rac1/Cdc42 activities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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