Functional hierarchy of herpes simplex virus type-1 membrane proteins in corneal infection and virus transmission to ganglionic neurons

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PURPOSE: To determine the relative importance of viral glycoproteins gK, gM, gE and the membrane protein UL11 in infection of mouse corneas and ganglionic neurons. METHODS: Mouse eyes were scarified and infected with herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1(F), gE-null, gM-null, gK-null, or UL11-null viruses. Clinical signs of ocular disease were monitored daily. Virus shedding was determined at 24, 48 and 72 h post infection. Viral DNA within trigeminal ganglia (TG) was quantified by quantitative PCR at 30 d post infection. RESULTS: The gE-null virus replicated as efficiently as the parental virus and formed viral plaques approximately half-the-size in comparison with the HSV-1(F) wild-type virus. The UL11-null and gM-null viruses replicated approximately one log less efficiently than the wild-type virus, and formed plaques that were on average one-third the size and one-half the size of the wild-type virus, respectively. The gK-null virus replicated more than 3-logs less efficiently than the wild-type virus and formed very small plaques (5-10 cells). Mice infected with the wild-type virus exhibited mild clinical ocular symptoms, while mice infected with the mutant viruses did not show any significant ocular changes. The wild-type virus produced the highest virus shedding post infection followed by the gM-null, gE-null and UL11-null viruses, while no gK-null virus was detected at any time point. All TG collected from mice infected with the wild-type virus and 6-of-10 of TG retrieved from mice infected with the UL11-null virus contained high numbers of viral genomes. The gE-null and gM-null-infected ganglia contained moderate-to-low number of viral genomes in 4-of-10 and 2-of-10 mice, respectively. No viral genomes were detected in ganglionic tissues obtained from gK-null eye infections. CONCLUSIONS: The results show that gK plays the most important role among gM, gE and UL11 in corneal and ganglionic infection in the mouse eye model.

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Current eye research

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