Infection by herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) disrupts both dye and electrical coupling in Vero (African green monkey kidney) cell cultures. Vero cells in vitro were iontophoretically injected with the fluorescent dye Lucifer yellow CH, the spread of which revealed that cells throughout the confluent sheet shared open gap junctions. However, 24 h after infection with the virus (but before cells became rounded), dye always remained only within the target cell. Intracellular electrophysiological measurements of ionic coupling revealed a 0.4 coupling coefficient for adjacent cells in uninfected control cultures. By 3 h following infection significant down-regulation of gap junctions had begun, preceding by many hours any signs of infection visible with the light microscope. Measurements between adjacent cells 3 h post-infection, a period when HSV-2 gene expression is known to be at a maximum, yielded an average coupling coefficient of 0.35. By 6 h post-infection (a period of known viral DNA replication) average coupling coefficient for adjacent cells was 0.25, while by 24 h post-infection the average fill still further to <0.08. A coupling coefficient of <0.08 suggests that infection by HSV-2 completely disabled the gap junctions.
- Gap junctional communication
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