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Future Virol. 2018 May;13(6):431-443. doi: 10.2217/fvl-2018-0023. Epub 2018 May 22.

Latent versus productive infection: the alpha herpesvirus switch.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.


Alpha herpesviruses are common pathogens of mammals. They establish a productive infection in many cell types, but a life-long latent infection occurs in PNS neurons. A vast majority of the human population has latent HSV-1 infections. Currently, there is no cure to clear latent infections. Even though HSV-1 is among the best studied viral pathogens, regulation of latency and reactivation is not well understood due to several challenges including a lack of animal models that precisely recapitulate latency/reactivation episodes; a difficulty in modeling in vitro latency; and a limited understanding of neuronal biology. In this review, we discuss insights gained from in vitro latency models with a focus on the neuronal and viral factors that determine the mode of infection.


alpha herpesviruses; in vitro latency model; latency; reactivation

Conflict of interest statement

Financial & competing interests disclosure LW Enquist acknowledges support from US NIH grants NS033506 and NS060699 and F30 fellowship – NINDS F30 NS090640 (MAM). The authors have no other relevant affiliations or financial involvement with any organization or entity with a financial interest in or financial conflict with the subject matter or materials discussed in the manuscript apart from those disclosed. No writing assistance was utilized in the production of this manuscript.

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