Cellular Requirements for Sensing and Elimination of Incoming HSV-1 DNA and Capsids

Chenglong Sun, Stefanie Luecke, Chiranjeevi Bodda, Kasper L. Jønsson, Yujia Cai, Bao Cun Zhang, Søren B. Jensen, Iver Nordentoft, Jacob M. Jensen, Martin R. Jakobsen, Sren R. Paludan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Incoming viruses challenge the cell with diverse foreign molecules, which need to be sensed quickly to initiate immune responses and to remove the viral components. In this study, we investigate the cellular requirements for sensing and degradation of incoming viral DNA and capsids during herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) infections. Using click chemistry labeling of the viral genome, we found that HSV-1 DNA was released from a subset of capsids into the cytosol early in infection. By next-generation sequencing of cyclic GMP-AMP (cGAMP) synthase (cGAS)-bound DNA from HSV-1-infected cells, we show that HSV-1 DNA was bound by the cytosolic DNA sensor cGAS. Activation of cGAS enzymatic activity by viral DNA did not require proteasomal activity, indicating that viral DNA release into the cytosol is not proteasome-dependent. However, induction of interferon (IFN)-β expression was blocked by inhibition of the proteasome, suggesting a contribution of the proteasome to IFN-β induction through the cGAS-stimulator of interferon genes pathway. Viral DNA was cleared from the cytosol within few hours, in a manner dependent on TREX1 and a cGAS-dependent process. Capsid material in the cytoplasm was also degraded rapidly. This was partially blocked by treatment with a proteasome inhibitor. This treatment led to accumulation of DNA-containing viral capsids near the nucleus and reduced nuclear entry of viral DNA. Thus, cells infected with HSV-1 use a panel of mechanisms to eliminate viral DNA and capsids. This represents a barrier for establishment of infection and potentially enables the host to gear the IFN-β response to a level required for antiviral defense without causing immunopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-204
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Interferon and Cytokine Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA sensing
  • herpes simplex virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Virology


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