Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a human alpha herpesvirus that establishes latency in sensory ganglia. Latency is characterized by the abundant expression of the immediate early protein 63 (IE63), whereas other viral proteins have not yet been detected during the quiescent phase of VZV infection. The IE63 protein is a component of the virion and is expressed very early in the infectious cycle. The IE63 protein is also expressed in skin during episodes of varicella and herpes zoster. We have evaluated the cell-mediated immune response against IE63 in naturally immune adults with a history of chickenpox, by T lymphoproliferation and cytotoxicity assays. Among donors who had T cell proliferation to unfractionated VZV Ags from infected cell extract, 59% had T cell recognition of purified IE63. The CTL response to IE63 was equivalent to CTL recognition of IE62, the major tegument component of VZV whose immunogenicity has been previously described. IgG Abs against IE63 were detected in serum from healthy immune adults. These results indicate that IE63 is an important target of immunity to VZV. T cell recognition of IE63 is likely to be involved in controlling VZV reactivation from latency.
View details for Web of Science ID A1997XV75000033
View details for PubMedID 9300702