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Harry H. Matundan, Ujjaldeep Jaggi, Shaohui Wang, Homayon Ghiasi; Loss of ICP22 in HSV-1 Elicits Immune Infiltration and Maintains Stromal Keratitis Despite Reduced Primary and Latent Virus Infectivity. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(10):3398-3406. doi: 10.1167/iovs.19-27701.
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We previously have reported that ICP22, an immediate early gene of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), binds to the CD80 promoter to suppress CD80 expression in antigen-presenting cells, leading to reduced T-cell function and protection. In contrast, overexpression of CD80 exacerbates corneal scarring (CS) in ocularly infected mice. In this study we tested the hypothesis that the absence of ICP22 could increase disease severity.
To test our hypothesis, BALB/c mice were ocularly infected after corneal scarification with a recombinant HSV-1 lacking the ICP22 gene with its parental wild-type (WT) virus (KOS) as a control. Virus replication in the eye, CS, angiogenesis, latency, and reactivation between ICP22 null virus and WT KOS were determined. In addition, expression of IL-2, IL-4, IFN-γ, IFN-α, granzyme A, granzyme B, and perforin by CD4 and CD8 T cells in corneas of infected mice on days 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, 21, and 28 postinfection were determined by flow cytometry.
We found similar levels of eye disease and angiogenesis in mice following corneal scarification and ocular infection with the ICP22 null virus or parental WT virus despite reduced virus replication in the eye and reduced latency and reactivation in mice ocularly infected with ICP22 null virus. The similar level of eye disease in ICP22 null virus– and WT virus–infected mice correlated with expression of various proinflammatory cytokines that infiltrated the eye after HSV-1 infection.
Our study identified a critical role for ICP22 in HSV-1 pathogenicity and suggests that HSV-1–associated CS is more dependent on host immune responses to infection than to virus replication in the eye. Thus, HSV-1 as means of survival uses ICP22 as a mechanism of immune escape that protects the host from increased pathology.
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