Herpes simplex virus Research
Gene Expression During
Productive and Latent Infections
Herpes simplex virus is a highly adapted human pathogen with rapid lytic replication cycle, and yet with the ability to invade sensory neurons where highly restricted gene expression occurs with the absence of cytopathology.
Such latent infections are subject to reactivation whereby infectious virus can be recovered in peripheral tissue enervated by the latently infected neurons following a specific physiological stress. A major factor in these "switches" from lytic to latent infection and back involves changes in transcription patterns, mainly as a result of the
interaction between viral promoters, the viral genome, and cellular transcriptional
The analysis of the pattern of HSV transcription has been a major goal of this laboratory for over thirty (30) years. As technology has become more sophisticated, our ability to examine these patterns and the viral and cellular factors affecting them has increased
in resolution manifold.
We have determined the physical location of all viral transcripts on the viral genome, and described basic properties of viral promoters controlling the expression of specific classes of viral genes. Of particular interest are those features of the HSV genome and its interaction with the neuronal cell which lead to latency and reactivation.
Current technology includes the use of DNA microarrays for envisioning and quantitating global patterns of viral and cellular transcript abundance as a function of infection of cells and experimental animals (mice and rabbits) under controlled conditions. It also included the introduction of specific modifications to critical promoters which lead to altered patterns of viral gene expression, and ultimately replication and pathogenesis.