Archives of Virology

, Volume 101, Issue 1–2, pp 87–104 | Cite as

Herpes simplex virus infection of the human sensory neuron

An electron microscopy study
  • E. Lycke
  • B. Hamark
  • Maria Johansson
  • Antonina Krotochwil
  • J. Lycke
  • B. Svennerholm
Original Papers


Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 was used to infect cultures of human embryonic dorsal root ganglion cells. Infected cultured were studied by electron microscopy. Viral nucleocapsids were observed to be internalized into neuronal cells bodies and neuritic extensions by fusion of the viral envelope and the plasma membrane. No signs of internalization by endocytosis were noted. Nucleocapsids were transported in neurites and were within 2 hrs post-infection found located near the microtubules and close to the nuclear pores in the perikaryon.

A primary envelopment of nucleocapsids occurred at the inner lamina of the nuclear membrane and virions appeared between the two laminae. Presence of non-enveloped nucleocapsids outside the nuclear membrane and in close contact with the endoplasmic reticulum suggested that nucleocapsids could pass to the cytoplasmic side probably by de-envelopment at the outer nuclear membrane. A secondary envelopment occurred at the endoplasmic reticulum where the virions also became enclosed in transport vesicles. Enveloped virus appearing in the cytoplasm of neurons and neuritic extensions was always found only inside these transport vesicles.

During their passage through the cytoplasm the virion-transport vesicle complexes were surrounded by smaller lysosome-like vesicles possibly derived from the Golgi apparatus. Fusion reactions between vesicles with virions and the smaller vesicles seemed to occur. We discuss if in this way the virion-transport vesicle complexes might be provided with glycosyl transferases and substrates necessary for maturation and completion of glycosylation of the viral envelope glycoproteins. The transport vesicles seemed essential for egress of virions from the infected cell by releasing virus when fusing with the plasma membrane.


Dorsal Root Ganglion Herpes Simplex Virus Nuclear Membrane Viral Envelope Envelope Glycoprotein 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Lycke
    • 1
  • B. Hamark
    • 1
  • Maria Johansson
    • 1
  • Antonina Krotochwil
    • 1
  • J. Lycke
    • 1
  • B. Svennerholm
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Virology, Institute of Medical MicrobiologyUniversity of GöteborgGöteborgSweden

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