Directional spread of an α-herpesvirus in the nervous system

L. W. Enquist*, M. J. Tomishima, S. Gross, G. A. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Pseudorabies virus (PRV), an α-herpesvirus, is capable of spreading between synaptically connected neurons in diverse hosts. In this report, two lines of experimentation are summarized that provide insight into the mechanism of virus spread in neurons. First, techniques were developed to measure the transport dynamics of capsids in infected neurons. Individual viral capsids labeled with green fluorescent protein (GFP) were visualized and tracked as they moved in axons away from infected neuronal cell bodies in culture during egress. Second, the effects of three viral membrane proteins (gE, gI and Us9) on the localization of envelope, tegument, and capsid proteins in infected, cultured sympathetic neurons were determined. These three proteins are necessary for spread of infection from pre-synaptic neurons to post-synaptic neurons in vivo (anterograde spread). Us9 mutants apparently are defective in anterograde spread in neural circuits because essential viral membrane proteins such as gB are not transported to axon terminals to facilitate spread to the connected neuron. By contrast, gE and gI mutants manifest their phenotype because these proteins most likely function at the axon terminal of the infected neuron to promote spread. These two sets of experiments are consistent with a model for herpesvirus spread in neurons first suggested by Cunningham and colleagues where capsids and envelope proteins, but not whole virions, are transported separately into the axon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-16
Number of pages12
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 22 2002


  • Axonal transport
  • Herpesvirus
  • Membrane proteins
  • Pseudorabies virus
  • Virus assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary
  • Microbiology


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