Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a host specific human pathogen that has been studied using human xenografts in SCID mice. Live whole-animal imaging is an emerging technique to measure protein expression in vivo using luminescence. Currently, it has only been possible to determine VZV protein expression in xenografts postmortem. Therefore, to measure immediate early (IE63) and late (glycoprotein E [gE]) protein expression in vivo viruses expressing IE63 or gE as luciferase fusion proteins were generated. Viable recombinant viruses pOka-63-luciferase and pOka-63/70-luciferase, which had luciferase genes fused to ORF63 and its duplicate ORF70, or pOka-gE-CBR were recovered that expressed IE63 or gE as fusion proteins and generated luminescent plaques. In contrast to pOka-63/70-luciferase viruses, the luciferase gene was rapidly lost in vitro when fused to a single copy of ORF63 or ORF68. IE63 expression was successfully measured in human skin and dorsal root ganglia xenografts infected with the genomically stable pOka-63/70-luciferase viruses. The progress of VZV infection in dorsal root ganglia xenografts was delayed in valacyclovir treated mice but followed a similar trend in untreated mice when the antiviral was withdrawn 28 days post-inoculation. Thus, IE63-luciferase fusion proteins were effective for investigating VZV infection and antiviral activity in human xenografts.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jviromet.2008.07.033
View details for Web of Science ID 000261838800026
View details for PubMedID 18761377