Katya Heldwein, PhD, Rotation Advisor
Herpes simplex virus 1, an enveloped double-stranded DNA virus, establishes a lifelong infection in the host that periodically reactivates, causing skin lesions and more rarely, encephalitis, keratitis, and cancer. HSV-1 contains 15 surface proteins, 4 of which are required for successful entry into target cells. The 11 remaining surface proteins are clearly important given their retention in highly passaged lab-adapted strains of HSV-1, however little is know about their function. My work focuses on glycoprotein C (gC), a surface protein known to bind heparan sulfate and influence entry into polarized epithelial cells. To better understand the role of gC in binding and entry, I created heterologous viral particles pseudotyped with the 4 essential glycoproteins plus gC. This novel reagent allows the investigation of gC from a “gain of function” perspective. By examining pseudotyped viral entry into polarized epithelial cells with and without exposure of basolateral surfaces, I hope to elucidate the effect gC has on apical versus basolateral viral entry, and begin to understand the role this protein plays in HSV-1 pathogenesis.