• Pseudorabies virus;
  • PC12 cells;
  • Tyrosine hydroxylase;
  • Acetylcholinesterase;
  • Catecholamine

Abstract: The effect of pseudorabies virus on neuronal functions was investigated in PC12 cells. During the period investigated, choline acetyltransferase was not affected, while the acetylcholinesterase activity declined steadily starting at 12 h post infection (p.i.), reaching its minimal level of 40% of the control value at 24 h p.i. In contrast, the activity of tyrosine hydroxylase, the key enzyme in catecholamine synthesis, increased to 150% of the control level by 15 h p.i., dropping off slowly with the appearance of viral cytopathology. In parallel, the infection induced, by a process independent of the extracellular Ca2+, an increased release of dopamine at 11 h p.i., followed by noradrenaline at 20 h p.i. In the infected cells, the intracellular content of catecholamine was maintained only in the presence of a high amount of catecholamine precursors in the culture medium. Three plaque-forming units per cell was the minimal multiplicity of infection required to obtain the maximal changes in enzyme activities; higher multiplicities induced more rapidly the maximal effects on tyrosine hydroxylase and acetylcholinesterase. Inhibition of DNA synthesis did not prevent the increase in tyrosine hydroxylase activity; however, protein synthesis was required. In conclusion, infection of the PC12 cells with pseudorabies virus induced significant changes in catecholaminergic and cholinergic metabolism, indicating the ability of this virus to interfere selectively with specialized neuronal functions.