Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version

April 2001


Published in JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, Apr. 2001, p. 3636–3646 Vol. 75, No. 8. Copyright © 2001, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


The latency-associated transcript (LAT) is the only abundant herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) transcript expressed during latency. In the rabbit eye model, LAT null mutants do not reactivate efficiently from latency. We recently demonstrated that the LAT null mutant dLAT2903 induces increased levels of apoptosis in trigeminal ganglia of infected rabbits compared to LAT+ strains (G.-C. Perng, C. Jones, J. Ciacci-Zarella, M. Stone, G. Henderson, A. Yokht, S. M. Slanina, F. M. Hoffman, H. Ghiasi, A. B. Nesburn, and C. S. Wechsler, Science 287:1500–1503, 2000).The same study also demonstrated that a plasmid expressing LAT nucleotides 301 to 2659 enhanced cell survival of transfected cells after induction of apoptosis. Consequently, we hypothesized that LAT enhances spontaneous reactivation in part, because it promotes survival of infected neurons. Here we report on the ability of plasmids expressing different portions of the 5’ end of LAT to promote cell survival after induction of apoptosis. A plasmid expressing the first 1.5 kb of LAT (LAT nucleotides 1 to 1499) promoted cell survival in neuro-2A (mouse neuronal) and CV-1 (monkey fibroblast) cells. A plasmid expressing just the first 811 nucleotides of LAT promoted cell survival less efficiently. Plasmids expressing the first 661 nucleotides or less of LAT did not promote cell survival. We previously showed that a mutant expressing just the first 1.5 kb of LAT has wild-type spontaneous reactivation in rabbits, and a mutant expressing just the first 811 nucleotides of LAT has a reactivation frequency higher than that of dLAT2903 but lower than that of wild-type virus. In addition, mutants reported here for the first time, expressing just the first 661 or 76 nucleotides of LAT, had spontaneous reactivation indistinguishable from that of the LAT null mutant dLAT2903. In summary, these studies provide evidence that there is a functional relationship between the ability of LAT to promote cell survival and its ability to enhance spontaneous reactivation.