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J Biol Chem. 2010 Jul 2;285(27):20882-90. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.102590. Epub 2010 Apr 30.

Epithelial-mesenchymal transition abolishes the susceptibility of polarized epithelial cell lines to measles virus.

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Department of Virology, Faculty of Medicine, Kyushu University, 3-1-1 Maidashi, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


Measles virus (MV), an enveloped negative-strand RNA virus, remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in developing countries. MV predominantly infects immune cells by using signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM; also called CD150) as a receptor, but it also infects polarized epithelial cells, forming tight junctions in a SLAM-independent manner. Although the ability of MV to infect polarized epithelial cells is thought to be important for its transmission, the epithelial cell receptor for MV has not been identified. A transcriptional repressor, Snail, induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), in which epithelial cells lose epithelial cell phenotypes, such as adherens and tight junctions. In this study, EMT was induced by expressing Snail in a lung adenocarcinoma cell line, II-18, which is highly susceptible to wild-type MV. Snail-expressing II-18 cells lost adherens and tight junctions. Microarray analysis confirmed the induction of EMT in II-18 cells and suggested a novel function of Snail in protein degradation and distribution. Importantly, wild-type MV no longer entered EMT-induced II-18 cells, suggesting that the epithelial cell receptor is down-regulated by the induction of EMT. Other polarized cell lines, NCI-H358 and HT-29, also lost susceptibility to wild-type MV when EMT was induced. However, the complete formation of tight junctions rather reduced MV entry into HT-29 cells. Taken together, these data suggest that the unidentified epithelial cell receptor for MV is involved in the formation of epithelial intercellular junctions.

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