Herpes simplex virus type 1 gene expression and reactivation of latent infection in the central nervous system

I. Steiner*, N. Mador, I. Reibstein, J. G. Spivack, N. W. Fraser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Restricted gene expression takes place during latent infection of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV–1) in the human peripheral nervous system and has been linked with viral reactivation. The state of HSV–1 gene expression in the central nervous system (CNS) during latency is unclear and we. therefore, examined gene expression in the brainstem of experimental mice and normal humans. Only part of the transcription pattern present during latent infection in peripheral sensory ganglia (PSG) was identified in the human brainstem by in situ hybridization and Northern blot analysis for HSV–1–specific transcripts. Instead of three HSV–1 latency associated transcripts (LATs) present in PSG and demonstrated by Northern blot analysis, only one was identified in mouse brainstem and none was detected in human brainstem. These findings might be attributed to the relatively low amounts of HSV–1–specific latency–associated RNAs in brainstem tissue. Combined with our inability to reactivate HSV–1 from explanted mouse brainstem, these findings suggest that tissue levels of latency–associated gene expression play a role in HSV–1 reactivation and have relevance to the very low incidence of HSV–1–induced CNS disease compared with peripheral mucocutaneous disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-260
Number of pages8
JournalNeuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • central nervous system
  • herpes simplex virus
  • latent infection
  • viral reactivation


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