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Latent infections with periodic reactivation are a common outcome after acute infection with many viruses. The latency-associated transcript (LAT) gene is required for wild-type reactivation of herpes simplex virus (HSV). However, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In rabbit trigeminal ganglia, extensive apoptosis occurred with LAT- virus but not with LAT+ viruses. In addition, a plasmid expressing LAT blocked apoptosis in cultured cells. Thus, LAT promotes neuronal survival after HSV-1 infection by reducing apoptosis.