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J Virol. 2015 Oct 14;90(1):167-79. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02249-15. Print 2016 Jan 1.

Dynamic Response of IFI16 and Promyelocytic Leukemia Nuclear Body Components to Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Infection.

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MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom


Intrinsic immunity is an aspect of antiviral defense that operates through diverse mechanisms at the intracellular level through a wide range of constitutively expressed cellular proteins. In the case of herpesviruses, intrinsic resistance involves the repression of viral gene expression during the very early stages of infection, a process that is normally overcome by viral tegument and/or immediate-early proteins. Thus, the balance between cellular repressors and virus-counteracting proteins determines whether or not a cell becomes productively infected. One aspect of intrinsic resistance to herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is conferred by components of promyelocytic leukemia nuclear bodies (PML NBs), which respond to infection by accumulating at sites that are closely associated with the incoming parental HSV-1 genomes. Other cellular proteins, including IFI16, which has been implicated in sensing pathogen DNA and initiating signaling pathways that lead to an interferon response, also respond to viral genomes in this manner. Here, studies of the dynamics of the response of PML NB components and IFI16 to invading HSV-1 genomes demonstrated that this response is extremely rapid, occurring within the first hour after addition of the virus, and that human Daxx (hDaxx) and IFI16 respond more rapidly than PML. In the absence of HSV-1 regulatory protein ICP0, which counteracts the recruitment process, the newly formed, viral-genome-induced PML NB-like foci can fuse with existing PML NBs. These data are consistent with a model involving viral genome sequestration into such structures, thereby contributing to the low probability of initiation of lytic infection in the absence of ICP0.


Herpesviruses have intimate interactions with their hosts, with infection leading either to the productive lytic cycle or to a quiescent infection in which viral gene expression is suppressed while the viral genome is maintained in the host cell nucleus. Whether a cell becomes lytically or quiescently infected can be determined through the competing activities of cellular repressors and viral activators, some of which counteract cell-mediated repression. Therefore, the events that occur within the earliest stages of infection can be of crucial importance. This paper describes the extremely rapid response to herpes simplex virus 1 infection of cellular protein IFI16, a sensor of pathogen DNA, and also of the PML nuclear body proteins PML and hDaxx, as revealed by live-cell microscopy. The data imply that these proteins can accumulate on or close to the viral genomes in a sequential manner which may lead to their sequestration and repression.

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