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Alphaherpesvirus-induced activation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells depends on the viral glycoprotein gD and is inhibited by non-infectious light particles

Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) are important innate immune cells during the onset of viral infections as they are specialized in the production of massive amounts of antiviral type I interferon (IFN). Alphaherpesviruses such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) or pseudorabies virus (PRV) are double stranded DNA viruses and potent stimulators of pDC. Detailed information on how PRV activates porcine pDC is lacking. Using PRV and porcine primary pDC, we report here that PRV virions, so-called heavy (H-)particles, trigger IFNα production by pDC, whereas light (L-) particles that lack viral DNA and capsid do not. Activation of pDC requires endosomal acidification and, importantly, depends on the PRV gD envelope glycoprotein and O-glycosylations. Intriguingly, both for PRV and HSV-1, we found that L-particles suppress H-particle-mediated activation of pDC, a process which again depends on viral gD. This is the first report describing that gD plays a critical role in alphaherpesvirus-induced pDC activation and that L-particles directly interfere with alphaherpesvirus-induced IFNα production by pDC.

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