The incidence of trigeminal ganglion infection after corneal inoculation of guinea pigs with thymidine kinase-negative mutants of herpes simplex virus was markedly reduced compared to infection after inoculation of thymidine kinase-positive virus. Thymidine kinase-negative herpes simplex virus replicated well in ocular tissues in which dividing or potentially dividing cells were present, but not in trigeminal ganglion infection of nondividing neurons. Thymidine kinase-positive virus, however, replicated well in ocular tissues as well as in trigeminal ganglion. These results suggest that thymidine kinase expression of herpes simplex virus may be important in infections of sensory ganglia.
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