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Arch Virol. 2014 Nov;159(11):2949-55. doi: 10.1007/s00705-014-2150-z. Epub 2014 Jun 26.

CLEC4M-positive and CD81-negative Huh7 cells are not susceptible to JFH-1 HCVcc infection but mediate transinfection.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Nihon University school of Medicine, 30-1 Ohyaguchikami-cho, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo, 173-8610, Japan.


C-type lectin domain family 4, member M (CLEC4M), a trans-membrane protein specifically expressed in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells, is considered a candidate receptor for hepatotropism of hepatitis C virus (HCV). CLEC4M was previously reported to capture artificial HCVpp (pseudoparticle) and transmit it to hepatocytes (transinfection) via CLEC4M-positive cells. It is still not known whether CLEC4M acts as a receptor for HCVcc (cell-culture-produced HCV) transinfection or whether CLEC4M is an entry receptor for HCVcc. Initially, we established stably CLEC4M-positive and HCV-replication-permissive cell lines by introducing a CLEC4M expression vector into Huh7-25 cells (Huh7-25-CLEC4M) by transfection. Huh7-25 is a mutant cell line that is resistant to JFH-1 HCVcc due to the lack of expression of CD81 but permissive for replication of JFH1 HCV RNA. When Huh7-25-CLEC4M cells were infected with HCVcc and cultured for 6 days, none were positive for infection. Next, to examine whether CLEC4M functions as a receptor for transinfection, Huh7-25-CLEC4M cells were inoculated with HCVcc and thereafter co-cultured with Huh7-it cells, which are susceptible to HCV infection. The amount of HCV RNA was increased in Huh7-it cells co-cultured with Huh7-25-CLEC4M cells, and the transinfection was inhibited in the presence of anti-CLEC4M antibody during inoculation. Thus, CLEC4M cannot substitute for CD81 as an entry receptor for JFH-1 HCVcc. It just mediates transinfection without internalization of HCVcc. CD81 is still crucial for HCV entry into hepatocytes, and CLEC4M in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells may be responsible for hepatotropism of HCV infection by trapping circulating HCV to transmit it to adjacent hepatocytes.

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