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J Virol. 1999 Jan;73(1):638-49.

Persistent infection promotes cross-species transmissibility of mouse hepatitis virus.

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Department of Epidemiology, Program in Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


Persistent infection with mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) strain A59 in murine DBT (delayed brain tumor) cells resulted in the emergence of host range variants, designated V51A and V51B, at 210 days postinfection. These host range mutants replicated efficiently in normally nonpermissive Chinese hamster ovary (CHO), in human hepatocarcinoma (HepG2), and to a lesser extent in human breast carcinoma (MCF7) cell lines. Little if any replication was noted in baby hamster kidney (BHK), green African monkey kidney (COS-7), feline kidney (CRFK), and swine testicular (ST) cell lines. By fluorescent antibody (FA) staining, persistent viruses V10B and V30B, isolated at days 38 and 119 days postinfection, also demonstrated very low levels of replication in human HepG2 cells. These data suggest that persistence may rapidly select for host range expansion of animal viruses. Pretreatment of HepG2 cells with a polyclonal antibody directed against human carcinoembryonic antigens (CEA) or with some monoclonal antibodies (Col-1, Col-4, Col-12, and Col-14) that bind human CEA significantly inhibited V51B infection. Under identical conditions, little or no blockade was evident with other monoclonal antibodies (kat4c or Col-6) which also bind the human CEA glycoproteins. In addition, an antibody (EDDA) directed against irrelevant antigens did not block V51B replication. Pretreatment with the Col-4 and Col-14 antibodies did not block Sindbis virus replication in HepG2 cells or MHV infection in DBT cells, suggesting that one or more CEA glycoproteins likely functioned as receptors for V51B entry into human cell lines. To test this hypothesis, the human biliary glycoprotein (Bgp) and CEA genes were cloned and expressed in normally nonpermissive BHK cell lines by using noncytopathic Sindbis virus replicons (pSinRep19). By growth curves and FA staining, human CEA and to a much lesser extent human Bgp functioned as receptors for V51B entry. Furthermore, V51B replication was blocked with polyclonal antiserum directed against human CEA and Bgp. Under identical conditions, the parental MHV strain A59 failed to replicate in BHK cells expressing human Bgp or CEA. These data suggest that MHV persistence may promote virus cross-species transmissibility by selecting for virus variants that recognize phylogenetic homologues of the normal receptor.

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