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Neuroscience. 2007 May 25;146(3):974-85. Epub 2007 Mar 26.

Viral regulation of the long distance axonal transport of herpes simplex virus nucleocapsid.

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Department of Anatomy, University of California San Francisco, 513 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94143-0452, USA.


Many membranous organelles and protein complexes are normally transported anterograde within axons to the presynaptic terminal, and details of the motors, adaptors and cargoes have received significant attention. Much less is known about the transport in neurons of non-membrane bound particles, such as mRNAs and their associated proteins. We propose that herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV) can be used to study the detailed mechanisms regulating long distance transport of particles in axons. A critical step in the transmission of HSV from one infected neuron to the next is the polarized anterograde axonal transport of viral DNA from the host infected nerve cell body to the axon terminal. Using the in vivo mouse retinal ganglion cell model infected with wild type virus or a mutant strain that lacks the protein Us9, we found that Us9 protein was necessary for long distance anterograde axonal transport of viral nucleocapsid (DNA surrounded by capsid proteins), but unnecessary for transport of virus envelope. Thus, we conclude that nucleocapsid can be transported independently down axons via a Us9-dependent mechanism.

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