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Virol J. 2013 Oct 28;10:317. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-10-317.

Single dose of glycoprotein K (gK)-deleted HSV-1 live-attenuated virus protects mice against lethal vaginal challenge with HSV-1 and HSV-2 and induces lasting T cell memory immune responses.

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Division of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, and Department of Pathobiological Sciences, Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine, Skip Bertman Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.



Herpes simplex virus type-1(HSV-1) and HSV-2 are important human pathogens that cause significant ocular and urogenital complications, respectively. We have previously shown that HSV-1 virions lacking glycoprotein K (gK) are unable to enter into neurons via synaptic axonal membranes and be transported in either retrograde or anterograde manner. Here, we tested the ability of HSV-1 (F) gK-null to protect against lethal challenge with either highly virulent ocular HSV-1 (McKrae strain), or genital HSV-2 (G strain). The gK-null virus vaccine efficiently protected mice against lethal vaginal infection with either HSV-1(McKrae) or HSV-2 (G).


Female mice were immunized via a single intramuscular injection with 106 PFU of the gK-null virus. Immunized mice were treated with Depo-Provera fourteen days after vaccination and were challenged via the vaginal route one week later. Ninety percent of mice vaccinated with the gK-null virus survived HSV-1 (McKrae) challenge, while 70% of these mice survived after HSV-2 (G) challenge. Moreover, all vaccinated mice exhibited substantially reduced disease symptoms irrespective of HSV-1 or HSV-2 challenge as compared to the mock vaccinated challenge group. T-cell memory immune responses to specific glycoprotein B (gB) and glycoprotein D (gD) peptide epitopes were detectable at 7 months post vaccination.


These results suggest that the highly attenuated, non-neurotropic gK-null virus may be used as an effective vaccine to protect against both virulent HSV-1 and HSV-2 genital infections and induce lasting immune responses.

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