The alpha-herpesviruses: molecular pathfinders in nervous system circuits

Mats I. Ekstrand, L. W. Enquist, Lisa E. Pomeranz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Several neuroinvasive viruses can be used to study the mammalian nervous system. In particular, infection by pseudorabies virus (PRV), an α-herpesvirus with broad host range, reveals chains of functionally connected neurons in the nervous systems of a variety of mammals. The specificity of PRV trans-neuronal spread has been established in several systems. One attenuated strain, PRV-Bartha, causes a reduced inflammatory response and also spreads only from infected post- to pre-synaptic neurons. We review the basics of PRV tracing and then discuss new developments and novel approaches that have enabled a more detailed understanding of the architecture of the nervous system. As questions and techniques evolve in the field of neuroscience, advances in PRV tracing will certainly follow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-140
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Molecular Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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