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J Gen Virol. 2014 Mar;95(Pt 3):539-48. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.060632-0. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Characterization of African bat henipavirus GH-M74a glycoproteins.

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Institute of Virology, Philipps University Marburg, Marburg, Germany.


In recent years, novel henipavirus-related sequences have been identified in bats in Africa. To evaluate the potential of African bat henipaviruses to spread in non-bat mammalian cells, we compared the biological functions of the surface glycoproteins G and F of the prototype African henipavirus GH-M74a with those of the glycoproteins of Nipah virus (NiV), a well-characterized pathogenic member of the henipavirus genus. Glycoproteins are central determinants for virus tropism, as efficient binding of henipavirus G proteins to cellular ephrin receptors and functional expression of fusion-competent F proteins are indispensable prerequisites for virus entry and cell-to-cell spread. In this study, we analysed the ability of the GH-M74a G and F proteins to cause cell-to-cell fusion in mammalian cell types readily permissive to NiV or Hendra virus infections. Except for limited syncytium formation in a bat cell line derived from Hypsignathus monstrosus, HypNi/1.1 cells, we did not observe any fusion. The highly restricted fusion activity was predominantly due to the F protein. Whilst GH-M74a G protein was found to interact with the main henipavirus receptor ephrin-B2 and induced syncytia upon co-expression with heterotypic NiV F protein, GH-M74a F protein did not cause evident fusion in the presence of heterotypic NiV G protein. Pulse-chase and surface biotinylation analyses revealed delayed F cleavage kinetics with a reduced expression of cleaved and fusion-active GH-M74a F protein on the cell surface. Thus, the F protein of GH-M74a showed a functional defect that is most likely caused by impaired trafficking leading to less efficient proteolytic activation and surface expression.

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