Alphaherpesvirus infection of the mammalian nervous system is dependent upon the long-distance intracellular transport of viral particles in axons. How viral particles are effectively trafficked in axons to either sensory ganglia following initial infection or back out to peripheral sites of innervation following reactivation remains unknown. The mechanism of axonal transport has, in part, been obscured by contradictory findings regarding whether capsids are transported in axons in the absence of membrane components or as enveloped virions. By imaging actively translocated viral structural components in living peripheral neurons, we demonstrate that herpesviruses use two distinct pathways to move in axons. Following entry into cells, exposure of the capsid to the cytosol resulted in efficient retrograde transport to the neuronal cell body. In contrast, progeny virus particles moved in the anterograde direction following acquisition of virion envelope proteins and membrane lipids. Retrograde transport was effectively shut down in this membrane-bound state, allowing for efficient delivery of progeny viral particles to the distal axon. Notably, progeny viral particles that lacked a membrane were misdirected back to the cell body. These findings show that cytosolic capsids are trafficked to the neuronal cell body and that viral egress in axons occurs after capsids are enshrouded in a membrane envelope.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science