Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e53010. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053010. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

Human sensory neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells support varicella-zoster virus infection.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, Section of Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado, United States of America.


After primary infection, varicella-zoster virus (VZV) establishes latency in neurons of the dorsal root and trigeminal ganglia. Many questions concerning the mechanism of VZV pathogenesis remain unanswered, due in part to the strict host tropism and inconsistent availability of human tissue obtained from autopsies and abortions. The recent development of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells provides great potential for the study of many diseases. We previously generated human iPS cells from skin fibroblasts by introducing four reprogramming genes with non-integrating adenovirus. In this study, we developed a novel protocol to generate sensory neurons from iPS cells. Human iPS cells were exposed to small molecule inhibitors for 10 days, which efficiently converted pluripotent cells into neural progenitor cells (NPCs). The NPCs were then exposed for two weeks to growth factors required for their conversion to sensory neurons. The iPS cell-derived sensory neurons were characterized by immunocytochemistry, flow cytometry, RT-qPCR, and electrophysiology. After differentiation, approximately 80% of the total cell population expressed the neuron-specific protein, βIII-tubulin. Importantly, 15% of the total cell population co-expressed the markers Brn3a and peripherin, indicating that these cells are sensory neurons. These sensory neurons could be infected by both VZV and herpes simplex virus (HSV), a related alphaherpesvirus. Since limited neuronal populations are capable of supporting the entire VZV and HSV life cycles, our iPS-derived sensory neuron model may prove useful for studying alphaherpesvirus latency and reactivation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center