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J Alzheimers Dis. 2014;42(1):301-12. doi: 10.3233/JAD-140237.

Modulation of the AMPK/Sirt1 axis during neuronal infection by herpes simplex virus type 1.

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Instituto de Microbiología Clínica, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile.
Instituto de Bioquímica y Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile.
Instituto de Microbiología Clínica, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile Centro de Investigación Sur-Austral en Enfermedades del Sistema Nervioso (CISNe), Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Chile.


Currently, it is unclear whether a neuron that undergoes viral reactivation and produces infectious particles survives and resumes latency or is killed, which is intriguing even if still unanswered. Previous reports have shown that herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) inhibits apoptosis during early infection, but is pro-apoptotic during productive infection. Taking in consideration that the stress sensors AMPK and Sirt1 are involved in neuronal survival and neuroprotection, we hypothesized that HSV-1 could activate the AMPK/Sirt1 axis as a strategy to establish latency through inhibition of apoptosis and restoration of the energy status. These effects could be accomplished through deacetylation of pro-apoptotic protein p53 and regulation of the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis and function PGC-1α and its target gene TFAM. Accordingly, we evaluated the AMPK/Sirt1 axis and its targets p53, PGC-1α, and acetyl CoA carboxylase in mice neuronal cultures infected with HSV-1 by western blot, RT-qPCR, and immunofluorescence analyses. Herein, we show that HSV-1 differentially modulates the AMPK/Sirt1 axis during the course of infection. In fact, during early infection (2 hpi) activated AMPK (p-AMPK) was down-regulated, but thereafter recovered gradually. In contrast, the levels of acetylated-p53 increased during the first hours post infection, but afterwards were reduced in parallel with the activation of Sirt1. However, acetylated-p53 peaked again at 18 hpi during productive infection, suggesting an activation of apoptosis. Strikingly, acetylated-p53, Sirt1, and p-AMPK apparently translocate from the nucleus to the cytoplasm after 4 hpi, where they accumulate in discrete foci in the perinuclear region. These results suggest that HSV-1 modulates the AMPK/Sirt1 axis differentially during the course of infection interfering with pro-apoptotic signaling and regulating mitochondrial biogenesis.


AMPK; HSV-1; PGC-1α; Sirt1; p53

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