Two Separate Tyrosine-Based YXXL/Φ Motifs within the Glycoprotein E Cytoplasmic Tail of Bovine Herpesvirus 1 Contribute in Virus Anterograde Neuronal Transport

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Bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1) causes respiratory infection and abortion in cattle. Following a primary infection, BHV-1 establishes lifelong latency in the trigeminal ganglia (TG). Periodic reactivation of the latent virus in TG neurons results in anterograde virus transport to nerve endings in the nasal mucosa and nasal virus shedding. The BHV-1 glycoprotein E cytoplasmic tail (gE-CT) is necessary for virus cell-to-cell spread in epithelial cells and neuronal anterograde transport. Recently, we identified two tyrosine residues, Y467 and Y563, within the tyrosine-based motifs YTSL and YTVV, which, together, account for the gE CT-mediated efficient cell-to-cell spread of BHV-1 in epithelial cells. Here, we determined that in primary neuron cultures in vitro, the individual alanine exchange Y467A or Y563A mutants had significantly diminished anterograde axonal spread. Remarkably, the double-alanine-exchanged Y467A/Y563A mutant virus was not transported anterogradely. Following intranasal infection of rabbits, both wild-type (wt) and the Y467A/Y563A mutant viruses established latency in the TG. Upon dexamethasone-induced reactivation, both wt and the mutant viruses reactivated and replicated equally efficiently in the TG. However, upon reactivation, only the wt, not the mutant, was isolated from nasal swabs. Therefore, the gE-CT tyrosine residues Y467 and Y563 together are required for gE CT-mediated anterograde neuronal transport.

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