Development of a reliable bovine neuronal cell culture system and labeled recombinant bovine herpesvirus type-1 for studying virus-host cell interactions

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Bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BoHV-1) is the viral causative agent of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis and a component of the bovine respiratory complex commonly referred to as shipping fever in calves. BoHV-1 is also responsible for losses of aborted calves and reductions in dairy productivity. BoHV-1 belongs to the neurotropic alphaherpesviruses which have a predilection to infect and establish latency in sensory neurons. Neuronal cell cultures provide a useful platform for experiments investigating neuronal entry, retrograde and anterograde transport, and the establishment of latency. Rodent neuronal cell lines and primary rabbit neuronal cells have been utilized for BoHV-1, though a reliable host-specific neuronal cell culture system has not been developed. In this study, BoHV-1 readily infected bovine-derived immortalized neuronal progenitor cells (FBBC-1) differentiated in cell culture producing neurite-like projections and exhibiting neuronal cell markers NeuN and L1CAM. FBBC-1 cells expressed both nectin-1 and nectin-2 alphaherpesvirus receptors on their cell surfaces, however, nectin-2 was detected in much greater abundance than nectin-1. To facilitate investigations of BoHV-1 infection, a recombinant BoHV-1 virus expressing the green fluorescent protein (GFP) cloned into a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) was used to generate an mCherry-VP26 fusion protein. The BoHV-1 GFP expressing VP26mCherry labeled virus infected differentiated FBBC-1 cells as evidenced by the production of infectious virions and the expression of both GFP and mCherry fluorophores. Time-lapse live cell microscopy revealed the presence of mCherry fluorescent capsids in neuronal projections immediately after virus entry moving retrograde in a saltatory manner. Proximity ligation assays (PLA) using MDBK cells demonstrated that BoHV-1 glycoprotein D (gD) interacted more efficiently with nectin-1 than nectin-2. However, the gD interaction with nectin-2 predominated in differentiated FBBC-1 cells in comparison to the gD nectin-1 interaction. The efficiently differentiated FBBC-1 neuronal cell line and fluorescently labeled BoHV-1 virions will assist experimentation aiming to elucidate specific mechanisms of virus entry and transport in a homologous bovine neuronal cell culture system.

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Virus research

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