Histone deacetylase inhibitors reduce the number of herpes simplex virus-1 genomes initiating expression in individual cells

Lev Shapira, Maya Ralph, Enosh Tomer, Shai Cohen, Oren Kobiler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although many viral particles can enter a single cell, the number of viral genomes per cell that establish infection is limited. However, mechanisms underlying this restriction were not explored in depth. For herpesviruses, one of the possible mechanisms suggested is chromatinization and silencing of the incoming genomes. To test this hypothesis, we followed infection with three herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) fluorescence expressing recombinants in the presence or absence of histone deacetylases inhibitors (HDACi's). Unexpectedly, a lower number of viral genomes initiated expression in the presence of these inhibitors. This phenomenon was observed using several HDACi: Trichostatin A (TSA), Suberohydroxamic Acid, Valporic Acid, and Suberoylanilide Hydroxamic Acid. We found that HDACi presence did not change the progeny outcome from the infected cells but did alter the kinetic of the gene expression from the viral genomes. Different cell types (HFF, Vero, and U2OS), which vary in their capability to activate intrinsic and innate immunity, show a cell specific basal average number of viral genomes establishing infection. Importantly, in all cell types, treatment with TSA reduced the number of viral genomes. ND10 nuclear bodies are known to interact with the incoming herpes genomes and repress viral replication. The viral immediate early protein, ICP0, is known to disassemble the ND10 bodies and to induce degradation of some of the host proteins in these domains. HDACi treated cells expressed higher levels of some of the host ND10 proteins (promyelocytic leukemia and ATRX), which may explain the lower number of viral genomes initiating expression per cell. Corroborating this hypothesis, infection with three HSV-1 recombinants carrying a deletion in the gene coding for ICP0, show a reduction in the number of genomes being expressed in U2OS cells. We suggest that alterations in the levels of host proteins involved in intrinsic antiviral defense may result in differences in the number of genomes that initiate expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1970
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberDEC
StatePublished - 2016


  • Gene expression
  • Herpes simplex virus-1
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitors
  • ICP0 deletion
  • Intrinsic immunity
  • Virus host interactions


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