Introduction of the glutamate receptor subunit 1 into motor neurons in vitro and in vivo using a recombinant herpes simplex virus

Neuroscience. 1997 Jul;79(2):435-47. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(96)00645-8.


We developed and characterized a recombinant herpes simplex virus vector and used it to introduce the complementary DNA encoding glutamate receptor subunit 1 flip into postmitotic motor neurons. Infection of purified motor neurons in vitro with this vector resulted in selective, high-level expression of glutamate receptor subunit 1 immunoreactivity in nearly 100% of the neurons. Patch-clamp experiments demonstrated that the protein product of the glutamate receptor subunit 1 flip transgene assembles into functional alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionate (AMPA) receptor channels. Herpes simplex virus-glutamate receptor subunit 1 flip was introduced into spinal cord cells by direct injection into the ventral horn and selectively into motor neurons by sciatic nerve injection. High levels of expression were sustained for at least one week and were accompanied by changes in the ionic permeability of AMPA receptors in transgene-expressing neurons. Throughout the first week of infection, there was little evidence for toxicity. Herpes simplex virus provides a versatile tool for manipulating the glutamate receptor phenotype of postmitotic neurons and will permit study of the role of individual glutamate receptor subunits in neuronal physiology and pathophysiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Glutamate / genetics*
  • Simplexvirus / genetics*


  • Receptors, Glutamate