Invasion of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 into Murine Epidermis: An Ex Vivo Infection Study

Rahn E, Petermann P, Thier K, Bloch W, Morgner J, Wickström SA, Knebel-Mörsdorf D

J. Invest. Dermatol. 2015 Dec;135(12):3009-16

PMID: 26203638

Abstract

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) invades its human host via the skin or mucosa. We aim to understand how HSV-1 overcomes the barrier function of the host epithelia, and for this reason, we established an ex vivo infection assay initially with murine skin samples. Here, we report how tissue has to be prepared to be susceptible to HSV-1 infection. Most efficient infection of the epidermis was achieved by removing the dermis. HSV-1 initially invaded the basal epidermal layer, and from there, spreading to the suprabasal layers was observed. Strikingly, in resting stage hair follicles, only the hair germ was infected, whereas the quiescent bulge stem cells (SCs) were resistant to infection. However, during the growth phase, infected cells were also detected in the activated bulge SCs. We demonstrated that cell proliferation was not a precondition for HSV-1 invasion, but SC activation was required as shown by infection of aberrantly activated bulge SCs in integrin-linked kinase (ILK)-deficient hair follicles. These results suggest that the status of the bulge SCs determines whether HSV-1 can reach its receptors, whereas the receptors on basal keratinocytes are accessible irrespective of their proliferation status.

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