Interferon (IFN) responses are critical for controlling herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). The importance of neuronal IFN signaling in controlling acute and latent HSV-1 infection remains unclear. Compartmentalized neuron cultures revealed that mature sensory neurons respond to IFNβ at both the axon and cell body through distinct mechanisms, resulting in control of HSV-1. Mice specifically lacking neural IFN signaling succumbed rapidly to HSV-1 corneal infection, demonstrating that IFN responses of the immune system and non-neuronal tissues are insufficient to confer survival following virus challenge. Furthermore, neurovirulence was restored to an HSV strain lacking the IFN-modulating gene, γ34.5, despite its expected attenuation in peripheral tissues. These studies define a crucial role for neuronal IFN signaling for protection against HSV-1 pathogenesis and replication, and they provide a novel framework to enhance our understanding of the interface between host innate immunity and neurotropic pathogens.
Rosato, Pamela C. and Leib, David A., "Neuronal Interferon Signaling is Required for Protection against Herpes Simplex Virus Replication and Pathogenesis" (2015). Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access Articles. 2994.