Depletion of the insulator protein CTCF results in herpes simplex virus 1 reactivation in vivo

Shannan D. Washington, Samantha I. Edenfield, Caroline Lieux, Zachary L. Watson, Sean M. Taasan, Adit Dhummakupt, David C. Bloom, Donna M. Neumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) establishes a lifelong latent infection in host peripheral neurons, including the neurons of the trigeminal ganglia (TG). HSV-1 can reactivate from neurons to cause recurrent infection. During latency, the insulator protein CTCF occupies DNA binding sites on the HSV-1 genome, and these sites have been previously characterized as functional enhancer-blocking insulators. Previously, CTCF was found to be dissociated from wild-type virus postreactivation but not in mutants that do not reactivate, indicating that CTCF eviction may also be an important component of reactivation. To further elucidate the role of CTCF in reactivation of HSV-1, we used recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors to deliver a small interfering RNA targeting CTCF to peripheral neurons latent with HSV-1 in rabbit TG. Our data show that CTCF depletion resulted in long-term and persistent shedding of infectious virus in the cornea and increased ICP0 expression in the ganglia, indicating that CTCF depletion facilitates HSV-1 reactivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00173-18
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • AAV8
  • CTCF
  • Chromatin
  • Epigenetics
  • Gene delivery
  • HSV-1
  • HSV-1 reactivation
  • In vivo reactivation
  • In vivo reactivation
  • Insulator
  • Rabbit ocular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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