Bcl-2 blocks a caspase-dependent pathway of apoptosis activated by herpes simplex virus 1 infection in HEp-2 cells

Veronica Galvan, Renato Brandimarti, Joshua Munger, Bernard Roizman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Earlier reports have shown that herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) mutants induce programmed cell death and that wild-type virus blocks the execution of the cell death program triggered by expression of viral genes, by the Fas and tumor necrosis factor pathways, or by nonspecific stress agents. In particular, an earlier report from this laboratory showed that the mutant virus d120 lacking the genes encoding infected cell protein 4 (ICP4), the major regulatory protein of the virus, induces a caspase-3-independent pathway of apoptosis in human SK-N-SH cells. Here we report that the pathway of apoptosis induced by the d120 mutant in human HEp-2 cells is caspase dependent. Specifically, in HEp-2 cells infected with d120, (i) a broad-range inhibitor of caspase activity, z-vad-FMK, efficiently blocked DNA fragmentation, (ii) cytochrome c was released into the cytoplasm, (iii) caspase-3 was activated inasmuch as poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase was cleaved, and (iv) chromatin condensation and fragmentation of cellular DNA were observed. In parallel studies, HEp-2 cells were transfected with a plasmid encoding human Bcl-2 and a clone (VAX-3) expressing high levels of Bcl-2 was selected. This report shows that Bcl-2 blocked all of the manifestations associated with programmed cell death caused by infection with the d120 mutant. Consistent with their resistance to programmed cell death, VAX-3 cells overproduced infected cell protein 0 (ICP0). An unexpected observation was that ICP0 encoded by the d120 mutant accumulated late in infection in small, quasi-uniform vesicle-like structures in all cell lines tested. Immunofluorescence-based colocalization studies indicated that these structures were not mitochondria or components of the endoplasmic reticulum or the late endosomal compartment. These studies affirm the conclusion that HSV can induce programmed cell death at multiple steps in the course of its replication, that the d120 mutant can induce both caspase-dependent and - independent pathways of programmed cell death, and that virus-induced stimuli of programmed cell death may differ with respect to the pathway that they activate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1931-1938
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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