Targeting Herpes Simplex Virus-1 gD by a DNA Aptamer Can Be an Effective New Strategy to Curb Viral Infection

Tejabhiram Yadavalli, Alex Agelidis, Dinesh Jaishankar, Kyle Mangano, Neel Thakkar, Kumar Penmetcha, Deepak Shukla*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is an important factor for vision loss in developed countries. A challenging aspect of the ocular infection by HSV-1 is that common treatments, such as acyclovir, fail to provide effective topical remedies. Furthermore, it is not very clear whether the viral glycoproteins, required for HSV-1 entry into the host, can be targeted for an effective therapy against ocular herpes in vivo. Here, we demonstrate that HSV-1 envelope glycoprotein gD, which is essential for viral entry and spread, can be specifically targeted by topical applications of a small DNA aptamer to effectively control ocular infection by the virus. Our 45-nt-long DNA aptamer showed high affinity for HSV-1 gD (binding affinity constant [Kd] = 50 nM), which is strong enough to disrupt the binding of gD to its cognate host receptors. Our studies showed significant restriction of viral entry and replication in both in vitro and ex vivo studies. In vivo experiments in mice also resulted in loss of ocular infection under prophylactic treatment and statistically significant lower infection under therapeutic modality compared to random DNA controls. Thus, our studies validate the possibility that targeting HSV-1 entry glycoproteins, such as gD, can locally reduce the spread of infection and define a novel DNA aptamer-based approach to control HSV-1 infection of the eye.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-378
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Therapy Nucleic Acids
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA aptamer
  • herpes simplex virus 1
  • prophylaxis
  • therapy
  • topical treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Molecular Medicine


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