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Concept: Herpes simplex


BACKGROUND: The morphogenesis of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) comprises several events, of which some are not completely understood. It has been shown that HSV-1 glycoproteins accumulate in the trans-Golgi network (TGN) and in TGN-derived vesicles. It is also accepted that HSV-1 acquires its final morphology through a secondary envelopment by budding into TGN-derived vesicles coated with viral glycoproteins and tegument proteins. Nevertheless, several aspects of this process remain elusive. The small GTPase Rab27a has been implicated in regulated exocytosis, and it seems to play a key role in certain membrane trafficking events. Rab27a also seems to be required for human cytomegalovirus assembly. However, despite the involvement of various Rab GTPases in HSV-1 envelopment, there is, to date, no data reported on the role of Rab27a in HSV-1 infection. RESULTS: Herein, we show that Rab27a colocalized with GHSV-UL46, a tegument-tagged green fluorescent protein-HSV-1, in the TGN. In fact, this small GTPase colocalized with viral glycoproteins gH and gD in that compartment. Functional analysis through Rab27a depletion showed a significant decrease in the number of infected cells and viral production in Rab27a-silenced cells. CONCLUSIONS: Altogether, our results indicate that Rab27a plays an important role in HSV-1 infection of oligodendrocytic cells.

Concepts: Cytomegalovirus, Encephalitis, HIV, Infection, Herpes simplex, Herpes simplex virus, Herpesviridae, Virus


St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been intensively investigated for its antidepressive activity, but dermatological applications also have a long tradition. Topical St. John’s wort preparations such as oils or tinctures are used for the treatment of minor wounds and burns, sunburns, abrasions, bruises, contusions, ulcers, myalgia, and many others. Pharmacological research supports the use in these fields. Of the constituents, naphthodianthrones (e.g., hypericin) and phloroglucinols (e.g., hyperforin) have interesting pharmacological profiles, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities. In addition, hyperforin stimulates growth and differentiation of keratinocytes, and hypericin is a photosensitizer which can be used for selective treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancer. However, clinical research in this field is still scarce. Recently, sporadic trials have been conducted in wound healing, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and herpes simplex infections, partly with purified single constituents and modern dermatological formulations. St. John’s wort also has a potential for use in medical skin care. Composition and stability of pharmaceutical formulations vary greatly depending on origin of the plant material, production method, lipophilicity of solvents, and storage conditions, and this must be regarded with respect to practical as well as scientific purposes.

Concepts: Hyperforin, St John's wort, Herpes simplex, Wound healing, Hypericum, Pharmacology, Wound, Medicine


Tannins, plant-derived polyphenols and other related compounds, have been utilized for a long time in many fields such as the food industry and manufacturing. In this study, we investigated the anti-viral effects of tannins on 12 different viruses including both enveloped viruses (influenza virus H3N2, H5N3, herpes simplex virus-1, vesicular stomatitis virus, Sendai virus and Newcastle disease virus) and non-enveloped viruses (poliovirus, coxsachievirus, adenovirus, rotavirus, feline calicivirus and mouse norovirus). We found that extracts from persimmon (Diospyros kaki), which contains ca. 22% of persimmon tannin, reduced viral infectivity in more than 4-log scale against all of the viruses tested, showing strong anti-viral effects against a broad range of viruses. Other tannins derived from green tea, acacia and gallnuts were effective for some of the viruses, while the coffee extracts were not effective for any of the virus. We then investigated the mechanism of the anti-viral effects of persimmon extracts by using mainly influenza virus. Persimmon extracts were effective within 30 seconds at a concentration of 0.25% and inhibited attachment of the virus to cells. Pretreatment of cells with the persimmon extracts before virus infection or post-treatment after virus infection did not inhibit virus replication. Protein aggregation seems to be a fundamental mechanism underlying the anti-viral effect of persimmon tannin, since viral proteins formed aggregates when purified virions were treated with the persimmon extracts and since the anti-viral effect was competitively inhibited by a non-specific protein, bovine serum albumin. Considering that persimmon tannin is a food supplement, it has a potential to be utilized as a safe and highly effective anti-viral reagent against pathogenic viruses.

Concepts: Protein, Tea, Herpes simplex, Viruses, Mononegavirales, Microbiology, Persimmon, Virus


Genital herpes is the manifestation of a herpes simplex virus 2 infection. Standard treatment uses both local and systemic approaches. Here, we report on the results of a local therapy approach with 31 female patients at a gynecological practice. In the here-described approach, established genital herpes infection was treated with the medical device Herpotherm(®), with or without virostatic drugs. Herpotherm(®) is a certified medical device operating on the basis of local heat application. Parameters evaluated during the approach were (i) subjective patient assessments and (ii) objective assessment of the physician. In the described therapy approach a positive effect in terms of nature and severity in the course of the disease using Herpotherm(®) could be demonstrated. It could be shown that Herpotherm(®) can also be used for genital herpes and that it is well tolerated. In relation to other therapies using topical treatment for genital herpes, an extremely rapid reduction of pain and herpetic symptoms could be observed. Intolerances or discontinued use as a result of complications were not observed.

Concepts: Disease, Assessment, Encephalitis, Herpes simplex virus, Medicine, Herpesviridae, Virus, Herpes simplex


A large portion of the global population carries latent herpes simplex virus (HSV), which can periodically reactivate, resulting in asymptomatic shedding or formation of ulcerative lesions. Current anti-HSV drugs do not eliminate latent virus from sensory neurons where HSV resides, and therefore do not eliminate the risk of transmission or recurrent disease. Here, we report the ability of HSV-specific endonucleases to induce mutations of essential HSV genes both in cultured neurons and in latently infected mice. In neurons, viral genomes are susceptible to endonuclease-mediated mutagenesis, regardless of the time of treatment after HSV infection, suggesting that both HSV lytic and latent forms can be targeted. Mutagenesis frequency after endonuclease exposure can be increased nearly 2-fold by treatment with a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. Using a mouse model of latent HSV infection, we demonstrate that a targeted endonuclease can be delivered to viral latency sites via an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector, where it is able to induce mutation of latent HSV genomes. These data provide the first proof-of-principle to our knowledge for the use of a targeted endonuclease as an antiviral agent to treat an established latent viral infection in vivo.

Concepts: Infection, HIV, Virus latency, Herpes simplex, Herpesviridae, Herpes simplex virus, DNA, Virus


Encephalitis is a severe neurological syndrome usually caused by viruses. Despite significant progress in diagnostic techniques, the causative agent remains unidentified in the majority of cases. The aim of the present study was to test an alternative approach for the detection of putative pathogens in encephalitis using next-generation sequencing (NGS).

Concepts: Varicella zoster virus, Epstein-Barr virus, Alphaherpesvirinae, Herpes simplex, Virus latency, Herpesviridae, Herpes simplex virus, Virus


Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV2) is a human herpesvirus found worldwide that causes genital lesions and more rarely causes encephalitis. This pathogen is most common in Africa, and particularly in central and east Africa, an area of particular significance for the evolution of modern humans. Unlike HSV1, HSV2 has not simply co-speciated with humans from their last common ancestor with primates. HSV2 jumped the species barrier between 1.4 and 3 MYA, most likely through intermediate but unknown hominin species. In this article, we use probability-based network analysis to determine the most probable transmission path between intermediate hosts of HSV2, from the ancestors of chimpanzees to the ancestors of modern humans, using paleo-environmental data on the distribution of African tropical rainforest over the last 3 million years and data on the age and distribution of fossil species of hominin present in Africa between 1.4 and 3 MYA. Our model identifies Paranthropus boisei as the most likely intermediate host of HSV2, while Homo habilis may also have played a role in the initial transmission of HSV2 from the ancestors of chimpanzees to P.boisei.

Concepts: Encephalitis, Evolution, Herpes simplex, Africa, Virus, Herpesviridae, Herpes simplex virus, Human


Maternal infections during pregnancy are associated with risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Proposed pathogenetic mechanisms include fetal infection, placental inflammation, and maternal cytokines or antibodies that cross the placenta. The Autism Birth Cohort comprises mothers, fathers, and offspring recruited in Norway in 1999 to 2008. Through questionnaire screening, referrals, and linkages to a national patient registry, 442 mothers of children with ASD were identified, and 464 frequency-matched controls were selected. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii, rubella virus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), and HSV-2 in plasma collected at midpregnancy and after delivery were measured by multiplexed immunoassays. High levels of HSV-2 IgG antibodies in maternal midpregnancy plasma were associated with increased risk of ASD in male offspring (an increase in HSV-2 IgG levels from 240 to 640 arbitrary units/ml was associated with an odds ratio of 2.07; 95% confidence interval, 1.06 to 4.06; P = 0.03) when adjusted for parity and child’s birth year. No association was found between ASD and the presence of IgG antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii, rubella virus, CMV, or HSV-1. Additional studies are needed to test for replicability of risk and specificity of the sex effect and to examine risk associated with other infections. IMPORTANCE The cause (or causes) of most cases of autism spectrum disorder is unknown. Evidence from epidemiological studies and work in animal models of neurodevelopmental disorders suggest that both genetic and environmental factors may be implicated. The latter include gestational infection and immune activation. In our cohort, high levels of antibodies to herpes simplex virus 2 at midpregnancy were associated with an elevated risk of autism spectrum disorder in male offspring. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that gestational infection may contribute to the pathogenesis of autism spectrum disorder and have the potential to drive new efforts to monitor women more closely for cryptic gestational infection and to implement suppressive therapy during pregnancy.

Concepts: Childbirth, Neurodevelopmental disorder, Herpes simplex, Autism spectrum, Virus, Herpesviridae, Autism, Immune system


Herpesviruses infect the majority of the human population and can cause significant morbidity and mortality. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 causes cold sores and herpes simplex keratitis, whereas HSV-2 is responsible for genital herpes. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the most common viral cause of congenital defects and is responsible for serious disease in immuno-compromised individuals. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with infectious mononucleosis and a broad range of malignancies, including Burkitt’s lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and post-transplant lymphomas. Herpesviruses persist in their host for life by establishing a latent infection that is interrupted by periodic reactivation events during which replication occurs. Current antiviral drug treatments target the clinical manifestations of this productive stage, but they are ineffective at eliminating these viruses from the infected host. Here, we set out to combat both productive and latent herpesvirus infections by exploiting the CRISPR/Cas9 system to target viral genetic elements important for virus fitness. We show effective abrogation of HCMV and HSV-1 replication by targeting gRNAs to essential viral genes. Simultaneous targeting of HSV-1 with multiple gRNAs completely abolished the production of infectious particles from human cells. Using the same approach, EBV can be almost completely cleared from latently infected EBV-transformed human tumor cells. Our studies indicate that the CRISPR/Cas9 system can be effectively targeted to herpesvirus genomes as a potent prophylactic and therapeutic anti-viral strategy that may be used to impair viral replication and clear latent virus infection.

Concepts: Virus latency, HIV, AIDS, Herpes simplex, Infection, Herpes simplex virus, Herpesviridae, Virus


All herpes viruses establish lifelong infections (latency) in their host, and herpes simplex viruses (HSVs) are highly prevalent worldwide. Recurrence of HSV infections contributes to significant disease burden in people and on rare occasion can be fatal. Cell culture models that recapitulate latent infection provide valuable insight on the host processes regulating viral establishment and maintenance of latency. More robust and rapid than infections in live animal studies, advancements in neuronal culture techniques have made the systematic analysis of viral reactivation mechanisms feasible. Only recently have human neuronal cell lines been available, but models in the natural host cell are a critical addition to the currently available models.

Concepts: Cell culture, Virus latency, Disease, Herpes simplex, Virology, Herpesviridae, Virus, Herpes simplex virus