Primary varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infection causes varicella (chickenpox) and the establishment of a lifelong latent infection in ganglionic neurons. VZV reactivates in about one-third of infected individuals to cause herpes zoster, often accompanied by neurological complications. The restricted host range of VZV and, until recently, a lack of suitable in vitro models have seriously hampered molecular studies of VZV latency. Nevertheless, recent technological advances facilitated a series of exciting studies that resulted in the discovery of a VZV latency-associated transcript (VLT) and provide novel insights into our understanding of VZV latency and factors that may initiate reactivation. Deducing the function(s) of VLT and the molecular mechanisms involved should now be considered a priority to improve our understanding of factors that govern VZV latency and reactivation. In this review, we summarize the implications of recent discoveries in the VZV latency field from both a virus and host perspective and provide a roadmap for future studies.

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Keywords Epigenetics, Immunity, Latency, Open reading frame 63, Reactivation, RNA-sequencing, Sensory ganglia, Varicella-zoster virus, VZV latency-associated transcript
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Journal Viruses
Depledge, D.P. (Daniel P.), Sadaoka, T. (Tomohiko), & Ouwendijk, W.J.D. (2018). Molecular Aspects of Varicella-Zoster Virus Latency. Viruses (Vol. 10). doi:10.3390/v10070349