Attachment and neuritic transport of herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 (McIntyre) were studied in a cell culture system with dissociated cells of rat dorsal root ganglia. The two-chamber cell culture system containing a diffusion barrier penetrated by neurites of cultured sensory neurons permitted infection of neurites extending outside the diffusion barrier without exposure of the neuronal cell soma. HSV adsorbed to neuritic extensions and reached the neuronal soma within 1.5 h post-inoculation. Neuritic uptake and transport of HSV were inhibited in the presence of cytochalasin B. Internalization of virus in neurites was preceded by attachment of virus to the neurite plasma membrane. Neurites transported viral nucleocapsids (NC) through the diffusion barrier of the cultures. Destruction of the neuritic extensions before or shortly after peripheral virus inoculation blocked spread of infection to the cell soma. No infection was established when neuritic extensions were exposed to viral NC and NC were then not observed inside the neurite plasma membrane. Virus produced in neurons, when HSV was inoculated into the inner culture chamber containing the neuronal cell bodies, was transported as enveloped virus in cytoplasmic vesicles from the neuronal cell body towards the periphery. Schwann cells were infected by viropexis. Shortly after infection virions were observed in vacuoles of the cytoplasm.


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