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Apoptosis. 2013 Feb;18(2):160-70. doi: 10.1007/s10495-012-0773-7.

Early passage neonatal and adult keratinocytes are sensitive to apoptosis induced by infection with an ICP27-null mutant of herpes simplex virus 1.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Des Moines University, Des Moines, IA, USA.


Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is a enveloped, double stranded DNA virus that is the causative agent of various diseases including cold sores, encephalitis, and ocular keratitis. Previous research has determined that HSV-1 modulates cellular apoptotic pathways. Apoptosis is triggered in infected cells early in infection; however, later in the infection the apoptotic response is suppressed due to the expression of several viral apoptotic antagonists. This sets us a delicate balance between pro- and anti-apoptotic processes during the lytic phase of infection. Several studies have demonstrated that the apoptotic balance can be shifted during infection of certain cell types, leading to apoptosis of the infected cells (HSV-1-dependent apoptosis). For example, HEp-2 cells infected with an ICP27-null recombinant HSV-1 virus undergo HSV-1-dependent apoptosis. Differences in the sensitivity to HSV-1-dependent apoptosis have been revealed. Although many tumor cells have been found to be highly sensitive to this apoptotic response, with the exception hematological cells, all primary human cells tested prior to this study have been shown to be resistant to HSV-1-dependent apoptosis. Here, we demonstrate that early passage neonatal and adult human keratinocytes, which are usually the first cells to encounter HSV-1 in human infection and support the lytic stage of the life cycle, display membrane blebbing and ballooning, chromatin condensation, caspase activation, and cleavage of cellular caspase substrates when infected with an ICP27-null recombinant of HSV-1. Furthermore, caspase activation is needed for the efficient apoptotic response. These results suggest that apoptotic machinery may be a target for modulating HSV-disease in patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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