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J Med Virol. 1991 Oct;35(2):142-9.

Modulation of coronavirus-mediated cell fusion by homeostatic control of cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism.

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Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Cellular susceptibility to fusion mediated by murine coronavirus (mouse hepatitis virus, MHV strain A59) was separated into lipid-dependent and lipid-independent mechanisms with the use of subclones and selected mutants of mouse L-2 fibroblasts. Fusion-resistant L-2 cell mutants had similar cholesterol and fatty acid composition as did their fusion-susceptible parent subclone, and were presumably deficient in a genetically mutable non-lipid, host cell factor (e.g., fusion protein receptor). On the other hand, cellular sensitivity to virus fusion, which is known to be influenced by cell cholesterol content [Daya et al., 1988], was shown further to be modulated by homeostatic alterations in fatty acid metabolism. Cholesterol supplementation of mouse L-2 fibroblasts or of peritoneal macrophages from MHV-susceptible mice elevated susceptibility to viral fusion. Increased fusion susceptibility occurred in cholesterol-supplemented L-2 cells in the absence of any detectable alterations in host cell fatty acid composition, thus demonstrating fusion enhancement by cholesterol alone. L-2 cells cloned by limiting dilution in normal (not cholesterol-supplemented) medium were found to be heterogeneous in cholesterol content. Interestingly, high cholesterol-containing subclones had increased levels of C-18:0, C-18:2, C-20:4, and C-22:6 and markedly reduced levels of C-18:1 fatty acids when compared to low cholesterol-containing subclones. High cholesterol-containing subclones did not show enhanced susceptibility to viral fusion, suggesting that homeostatic alteration of fatty acid metabolism compensated for the increased cholesterol levels and countered the normally fusion-enhancing effect of cholesterol alone.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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