Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Virology March 2012 vol. 86 no. 5 2459-2473 ; doi: 10.1128/​JVI.06143-11 Published ahead of print 21 December 2011. Copyright © 2012, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


Bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1), an alphaherpesvirinae subfamily member, establishes latency in sensory neurons. Elevated corticosteroid levels, due to stress, reproducibly triggers reactivation from latency in the field. A single intravenous injection of the synthetic corticosteroid dexamethasone (DEX) to latently infected calves consistently induces reactivation from latency. Lytic cycle viral gene expression is detected in sensory neurons within 6 h after DEX treatment of latently infected calves. These observations suggested that DEX stimulated expression of cellular genes leads to lytic cycle viral gene expression and productive infection. In this study, a commercially available assay—Bovine Gene Chip—was used to compare cellular gene expression in the trigeminal ganglia (TG) of calves latently infected with BHV-1 versus DEX-treated animals. Relative to TG prepared from latently infected calves, 11 cellular genes were induced more than 10-fold 3 h after DEX treatment. Pentraxin three, a regulator of innate immunity and neurodegeneration, was stimulated 35- to 63-fold after 3 or 6 h of DEXtreatment. Two transcription factors, promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger (PLZF) and Slug were induced more than 15-fold 3 h after DEX treatment. PLZF or Slug stimulated productive infection 20- or 5-fold, respectively, and Slug stimulated the late glycoprotein C promoter more than 10-fold. Additional DEX-induced transcription factors also stimulated productive infection and certain viral promoters. These studies suggest that DEX-inducible cellular transcription factors and/or signaling pathways stimulate lytic cycle viral gene expression, which subsequently leads to successful reactivation from latency in a small subset of latently infected neurons.