Variant-specific tropism of human herpesvirus 6 in human astrocytes (PDF)
Donati,Donatella; Martinelli,Elena; Cassiani-Ingoni,Riccardo; Ahlqvist,Jenny; Hou,Jean; Major,Eugene O.; Jacobson,Steven
Journal of Virology 79(15): 9439-9448
Publication date: 2005
Though first described as a lymphotropic virus, human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is highly neuropathogenic. Two viral variants are known: HHV-6A and HHV-6B. Both variants can infect glial cells and have been differentially associated with central nervous system diseases, suggesting an HHV-6 variant-specific tropism for glial cell subtypes. We have performed infections with both viral variants in human progenitor-derived astrocytes (HPDA) and monitored infected cell cultures for cytopathic effect (CPE), intra- and extracellular viral DNA load, the presence of viral particles by electronic microscopy, mRNA transcription, and viral protein expression. HHV-6A established a productive infection with CPE, visible intracellular virions, and high virus DNA loads. HHV-6B-infected HPDA showed no morphological changes, intracellular viral particles, and decreasing intra- and extracellular viral DNA over time. After long-term passage, HHV-6B-infected HPDA had stable but low levels of intracellular viral DNA load with no detectable viral mRNA. Our results demonstrate that HHV-6A and HHV-6B have differential tropisms and patterns of infection for HPDA in vitro, where HHV-6A results in a productive lytic infection. In contrast, HHV-6B was associated with a nonproductive infection. These findings suggest that HHV-6 variants might be responsible for specific infection patterns in glial cells in vivo. Astrocytes may be an important reservoir for this virus in which differential tropism of HHV-6A and HHV-6B may be associated with different disease outcomes.
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