Efficient quiescent infection of normal human diploid fibroblasts with wild-type herpes simplex virus type 1

Robert McMahon, Derek Walsh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Quiescent infection of cultured cells with herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) provides an important, amenable means of studying the molecular mechanics of a nonproductive state that mimics key aspects of in vivo latency. To date, establishing high-multiplicity nonproductive infection of human cells with wild-type HSV-1 has proven challenging. Here, we describe simple culture conditions that established a cell state in normal human diploid fibroblasts that supported efficient quiescent infection using wild-type virus and exhibited many important properties of the in vivo latent state. Despite the efficient production of immediate early (IE) proteins ICP4 and ICP22, the latter remained unprocessed, and viral late gene products were only transiently and inefficiently produced. This low level of virus activity in cultures was rapidly suppressed as the nonproductive state was established. Entry into quiescence was associated with inefficient production of the viral trans-activating protein ICP0, and the accumulation of enlarged nuclear PML structures normally dispersed during productive infection. Lytic replication was rapidly and efficiently restored by exogenous expression of HSV-1 ICP0. These findings are in agreement with previous models in which quiescence was established with HSV mutants disrupted in their expression of IE gene products that included ICP0 and, importantly, provide a means to study cellular mechanisms that repress wild-type viral functions to prevent productive replication. We discuss this model in relation to existing systems and its potential as a simple tool to study the molecular mechanisms of quiescent infection in human cells using wild-type HSV-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10218-10230
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • Virology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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