Microarray analysis of host cell gene transcription in response to varicella-zoster virus infection of human T cells and fibroblasts in vitro and SCIDhu skin xenografts in vivo

Authors: Jones JO, Arvin AM
Publication: J Virol
Division: Simulations Plus


During primary infection, varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is spread via lymphocytes to skin, where it induces a rash and establishes latency in sensory ganglia. A live, attenuated varicella vaccine (vOka) was generated by using the VZV Oka strain (pOka), but the molecular basis for vOka attenuation remains unknown. Little is known concerning the effects of wild-type or attenuated VZV on cellular gene regulation in the host cells that are critical for pathogenesis. In this study, transcriptional profiles of primary human T cells and fibroblasts infected with VZV in cell culture were determined by using 40,000-spot human cDNA microarrays. Cellular gene transcription in human skin xenografts in SCID mice that were infected with VZV in vivo was also evaluated. The profiles of cellular gene transcripts that were induced or inhibited in infected human foreskin fibroblasts (HFFs), T cells, and skin in response to pOka and vOka infection were similar. However, significant alterations in cellular gene regulation were observed among the three differentiated human cell types that were examined, suggesting specific differences in the biological consequences of VZV infection related to the target cell. Changes in cellular gene transcription detected by microarray analysis were confirmed for selected genes by quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR analysis of VZV-infected cells. Interestingly, the transcription of caspase 8 was found to be decreased in infected T cells but not in HFFs or skin, which may signify a tissue-specific antiapoptosis mechanism. The use of microarrays to demonstrate differences in effects on host cell genes in primary, biologically relevant cell types provides background information for experiments to link these various response phenotypes with mechanisms of VZV pathogenesis that are important for the natural course of human infection.

By Jeremy O Jones & Ann M Arvin