Syncytia formation has been considered important for cell-to-cell spread and pathogenesis of many viruses. As a syncytium forms, individual nuclei often congregate together, allowing close contact of nuclear membranes and possibly fusion to occur. However, there is currently no reported evidence of nuclear membrane fusion between adjacent nuclei in wild-type virus-induced syncytia. Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is one typical syncytia-inducing virus that causes chickenpox and shingles in humans. Here, we report, for the first time, an interesting observation of apparent fusion of the outer nuclear membranes from juxtaposed nuclei that comprise VZV syncytia both in ARPE-19 human epithelial cells in vitro and in human skin xenografts in the SCID-hu mouse model in vivo. This work reveals a novel aspect of VZV-related cytopathic effect in the context of multinucleated syncytia. Additionally, the information provided by this study could be helpful for future studies on interactions of viruses with host cell nuclei.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Outer nuclear membrane
- Varicella-zoster virus