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Virology. 2001 Apr 10;282(2):245-55.

Human herpesvirus 8 interaction with target cells involves heparan sulfate.

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Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics and Immunology, The University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas 66160, USA.


Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) or Kaposi's sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) is associated with Kaposi's sarcoma and primary effusion lymphoma. In vivo, HHV-8 DNA and transcripts have been detected in B cells, endothelial cells, macrophages, and epithelial cells. HHV-8 infects a variety of cell lines of human and animal origin, leading to latent or abortive infection. This study shows that the broad cellular tropism of HHV-8 may be in part due to its interaction with the ubiquitous host cell surface molecule, heparan sulfate (HS). This conclusion is based on the following findings: (i) HHV-8 infection of human foreskin fibroblast (HFF) cells was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner by soluble heparin, a glycosaminoglycan closely related to HS. Chondroitin sulfates A and C did not inhibit HHV-8 infection. (ii) Enzymatic removal of HFF cell surface HS with heparinase I and III reduced HHV-8 infection. (iii) Soluble heparin inhibited the binding of radiolabeled HHV-8 to human B cell lines, embryonic kidney epithelial (293) cells, and HFF cells, suggesting interference at the virus attachment stage. (iv) Cell surface adsorbed HHV-8 was displaced by soluble heparin. (v) Radiolabeled HHV-8 also bound to wild-type HS expressing Chinese hamster ovary (CHO-K1) cells. In contrast, binding of virus to mutant CHO cells deficient in HS was significantly reduced. These data show that the gamma2 herpesvirus HHV-8, similar to some members of alpha, beta, and gamma2 herpesviruses, adsorbs to cells by binding to cell surface HS-like moieties. Heparin did not completely prevent the binding and infectivity of HHV-8, suggesting that HHV-8 interactions with HS could be the first set of ligand-receptor interaction leading to the binding with one or more host cell receptors essential for the subsequent viral entry process.

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