Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) infection can manifest locally as mucocutaneous lesions or keratitis and can also spread to the central nervous system to cause encephalitis. HSV-1 establishes a lifelong latent infection and neither cure nor vaccine is currently available. The innate immune response is the first line of defense against infection. Caspases and gasdermins are important components of innate immunity. Caspases are a family of cysteine proteases, most of which mediate regulated cell death. Gasdermins are a family of pore-forming proteins that trigger lytic cell death. To determine whether caspases or gasdermins contribute to innate immune defenses against HSV-1, we screened mice deficient in specific cell death genes. Our results indicate a modest role for caspase-6 in defense against HSV-1. Further, Asc-/-Casp1/11-/- mice also had a modest increased susceptibility to HSV-1 infection. Caspase-7, -8, and -14 did not have a notable role in controlling HSV-1 infection. We generated Gsdma1-Gsdma2-Gsdma3 triple knockout mice, which also had normal susceptibility to HSV-1. We confirmed that the previously published importance of RIPK3 during systemic HSV-1 infection also holds true during skin infection. Overall, our data highlight that as a successful pathogen, HSV-1 has multiple ways to evade host innate immune responses.
Keywords: ASC; HSV-1; axon pruning; caspase-6; caspases; cell death; gasdermin A; keratinocyte; mice.