HSV-1 triggers paracrine fibroblast growth factor response from cortical brain cells via immediate-early protein ICP0.
BACKGROUND:Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) infections of the central nervous system (CNS) can result in HSV-1 encephalitis (HSE) which is characterized by severe brain damage and long-term disabilities. Different cell types including neurons and astrocytes become infected in the course of an HSE which leads to an activation of glial cells. Activated glial cells change their neurotrophic factor profile and modulate inflammation and repair. The superfamily of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) is one of the largest family of neurotrophic factors comprising 22 ligands. FGFs induce pro-survival signaling in neurons and an anti-inflammatory answer in glial cells thereby providing a coordinated tissue response which favors repair over inflammation. Here, we hypothesize that FGF expression is altered in HSV-1-infected CNS cells. METHOD:We employed primary murine cortical cultures comprising a mixed cell population of astrocytes, neurons, microglia, and oligodendrocytes. Astrocyte reactivity was morphometrically monitored by an automated image analysis algorithm as well as by analyses of A1/A2 marker expression. Altered FGF expression was detected by quantitative real-time PCR and its paracrine FGF activity. In addition, HSV-1 mutants were employed to characterize viral factors important for FGF responses of infected host cells. RESULTS:Astrocytes in HSV-1-infected cortical cultures were transiently activated and became hypertrophic and expressed both A1- and A2-markers. Consistently, a number of FGFs were transiently upregulated inducing paracrine neurotrophic signaling in neighboring cells. Most prominently, FGF-4, FGF-8, FGF-9, and FGF-15 became upregulated in a switch-on like mechanism. This effect was specific for CNS cells and for a fully functional HSV-1. Moreover, the viral protein ICP0 critically mediated the FGF switch-on mechanism. CONCLUSIONS:HSV-1 uses the viral protein ICP0 for the induction of FGF-expression in CNS cells. Thus, we propose that HSV-1 triggers FGF activity in the CNS for a modulation of tissue response upon infection.