In this study, we examined the functional role of bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1) Us9 acidic domain residues 83-90 in the anterograde axonal transport of the virus in calves (natural host), rabbits, and in cultured neurons. A mutant virus strain lacking Us9 residues 83-90 (BHV-1 Us9 Δ83-90) and the rescued virus (BHV-1 Us9 R83-90) replicated efficiently in the nasal and ocular epithelium during primary infection and established latency in the trigeminal ganglia (TG). However, upon reactivation from latency, only the BHV-1 Us9 R83-90 virus was detected in nasal and ocular swabs of animals. In compartmentalized, rabbit primary dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neuron cultures, the Us9-deleted BHV-1, BHV-1 Us9 Δ83-90 and BHV-1 Us9 R83-90 viruses were transported efficiently in the retrograde direction. However, only the BHV-1 Us9 R83-90 virus was transported in an anterograde direction. These studies suggested that the Us9 acidic domain residues located between 83 and 90 were required for axonal anterograde transport.
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