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J Virol. 2019 Mar 5;93(6). pii: e02210-18. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02210-18. Print 2019 Mar 15.

Lund Human Mesencephalic (LUHMES) Neuronal Cell Line Supports Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Latency In Vitro.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, USA.
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida, USA


Lund human mesencephalic (LUHMES) cells are human embryonic neuronal precursor cells that can be maintained as proliferating cells due to the expression of a tetracycline-regulatable (Tet-off) v-myc transgene. They can be differentiated to postmitotic neurons by the addition of tetracycline, glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), and dibutyryl cAMP. We demonstrate that these cells can be infected with herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) at a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 3 with the majority of cells surviving. By 6 days postinfection, there is a loss of lytic gene transcription and an increase in the numbers of neurons that express the latency-associated transcripts (LATs). Importantly, the virus can then be reactivated by the addition of a phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, which has previously been shown to reactivate HSV-1 in rat neuron cultures. While rodent primary culture neuron systems have been described, these are limited by their lack of scalability, as it is difficult to obtain more than 500,000 neurons to employ for a given experiment. Several recent papers have described a human dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neuron culture model and human induced pleuripotent stem cell (iPSC) neuron culture models that are scalable, but they require that the presence of an antiviral suppression be maintained following HSV-1 infection. The human LUHMES cell model of HSV-1 infection described here may be especially useful for studying HSV-1 latency and reactivation on account of its scalability, its amenability to maintenance of latency without the continual use of antiviral inhibitors, and its latent gene expression profile which mirrors many properties observed in vivo, importantly, the heterogeneity of cells expressing the LATs.IMPORTANCE Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is responsible for significant morbidity in humans due to its ability to cause oral and genital lesions, ocular disease, and encephalitis. While antivirals can attenuate the severity and frequency of disease, there is no vaccine or cure. Understanding the molecular details of HSV latency and reactivation is key to the development of new therapies. One of the difficulties in studying HSV latency has been the need to rely on establishment of latent infections in animal models. While rodent primary neuron culture models have shown promise, they yield relatively small numbers of latently infected neurons for biochemical and molecular analyses. Here we present the use of a human central nervous system (CNS)-derived conditionally proliferating cell line that can be differentiated into mature neurons and latently infected with HSV-1. This model shows promise as a scalable tool to study molecular and biochemical aspects of HSV-1 latency and reactivation in human neurons.


latency; neuron

[Available on 2019-09-05]

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