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Virology. 1999 Nov 25;264(2):398-409.

Mouse hepatitis virus strain JHM infects a human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, 90033, USA.


Mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) strain JHM is a coronavirus that causes encephalitis and demyelination in susceptible rodents. The known receptors for MHV are all members of the carcinoembryonic antigen family. Although human forms of the MHV receptor can function as MHV receptors in some assays, no human cell line has been identified that can support wild-type MHV infection. Here we describe the infection of a human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line, HuH-7, with MHV. HuH-7 cells were susceptible to strains JHM-DL and JHM-DS, yielding virus titers nearly identical to those seen in mouse DBT cells. In contrast, HuH-7 cells were only marginally susceptible or completely resistant to infection by other MHV strains, including A59. JHM produced a strong cytopathic effect in HuH-7 cells with the formation of round plaques. Studies of various recombinant viruses between JHM and A59 strains suggested that the ability of JHM to infect HuH-7 cells was determined by multiple viral genetic elements. Blocking the viral spike (S) protein with a neutralizing antibody or a soluble form of the MHV receptor inhibited infection of HuH-7 cells, suggesting that infection is mediated through the S protein. Transfection with the prototype mouse receptor, biliary glycoprotein, rendered HuH-7 cells susceptible to infection by other MHV strains as well, suggesting that JHM uses a receptor distinct from the classical MHV receptor to infect HuH-7 cells. Possible implications for human disease are discussed.

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