Repository logo

Near-native state imaging by cryo-soft-X-ray tomography reveals remodelling of multiple cellular organelles during HSV-1 infection.

Accepted version

Change log


Nahas, Kamal L 
Connor, Viv 
Harkiolaki, Maria 


Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) is a large, enveloped DNA virus and its assembly in the cell is a complex multi-step process during which viral particles interact with numerous cellular compartments such as the nucleus and organelles of the secretory pathway. Transmission electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy are commonly used to study HSV-1 infection. However, 2D imaging limits our understanding of the 3D geometric changes to cellular compartments that accompany infection and sample processing can introduce morphological artefacts that complicate interpretation. In this study, we used soft X-ray tomography to observe differences in whole-cell architecture between HSV-1 infected and uninfected cells. To protect the near-native structure of cellular compartments we used a non-disruptive sample preparation technique involving rapid cryopreservation, and a fluorescent reporter virus was used to facilitate correlation of structural changes with the stage of infection in individual cells. We observed viral capsids and assembly intermediates interacting with nuclear and cytoplasmic membranes. Additionally, we observed differences in the morphology of specific organelles between uninfected and infected cells. The local concentration of cytoplasmic vesicles at the juxtanuclear compartment increased and their mean width decreased as infection proceeded, and lipid droplets transiently increased in size. Furthermore, mitochondria in infected cells were elongated and highly branched, suggesting that HSV-1 infection alters the dynamics of mitochondrial fission/fusion. Our results demonstrate that high-resolution 3D images of cellular compartments can be captured in a near-native state using soft X-ray tomography and have revealed that infection causes striking changes to the morphology of intracellular organelles.



Journal Title

PLoS Pathog

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Wellcome Trust (098406/Z/12/B)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/H018301/1)
Medical Research Council (MR/K015850/1)
Medical Research Council (MR/K02292X/1)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/M021424/1)
This work was supported by a PhD studentship co-funded by Diamond Light Source and the Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, to KLN, by a research fellowship from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SCHE 1672/2-1) to KMS, by the funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/H018301/1) and the Medical Research Council (MR/K015850/1 and MR/K02292X/1) to CFK, by a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Research Grant (BB/M021424/1) to CMC, and by a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society (098406/Z/12/B) to SCG.
Is supplemented by: