Pseudorabies virus (PRV) is a herpesvirus in the subfamily alphaherpesvirinae (the alpha herpesviruses). After primary infection at mucosal surfaces, PRV infects the peripheral nervous system in its natural host (swine) with occasional invasion of the central nervous system. When other hosts (including cows and rodents) are infected, the infection almost always gives rise to fatal disease in the CNS as a result of infection of peripheral neurons and subsequent spread to the brain. Part of the ability to cause fatal CNS disease can be attributed to a viral glycoprotein called gE. Viruses lacking gE are thought to be less virulent because they do not spread efficiently from cell to cell. Based on a set of gE mutations we have constructed, we suggest that these two phenotypes of cell-cell spread and virulence reflect separate functions of the gE protein. In this report, we show that viruses carrying these new gE mutations have marked reduction in virulence, yet spread efficiently in defined neural circuits in the rat brain. As such, they offer new insight and opportunities for understanding of vital disease and host response to injury, as well as in the construction of viral tracers of neuronal connections.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Pseudorabies virus
- Visual circuitry
- Vital tracing