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2019-11-18 20:33:00


Hensen L, et al. Hemagglutinin-dependent tropism of H5N1 and H7N9 influenza viruses to human endothelial cells is determined by reduced stability of the HA which allows the virus to cope with inefficient endosomal aci. J Virol. 2019 Oct 9. pii: JVI.01223-19.
submited by kickingbird at Oct, 12, 2019 14:49 PM from J Virol. 2019 Oct 9. pii: JVI.01223-19.

Previous studies revealed that certain avian influenza A viruses (IAVs), including zoonotic H5N1 and H7N9 IAVs, infect cultured human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HULEC) more efficiently than other IAVs and that tropism to HULEC is determined by viral hemagglutinin (HA). To characterize mechanisms of HA-mediated endotheliotropism, we used 2:6 recombinant IAVs harbouring HAs from distinctive avian and human viruses and found that efficient infection of HULEC correlated with low conformational stability of the HA. We next studied effects on viral infectivity of single-point amino acid substitutions in the HA of 2:6 recombinant virus A/Vietnam/1203/2004-PR8 (H5N1). Substitutions H8Q, H103Y, T315I and K582I, which increased stability of the HA, markedly reduced viral infectivity for HULEC, whereas substitutions K189N and K218Q, which altered typical H5N1-virus-like receptor specificity and reduced binding avidity of the HA, led to only marginal reduction of infectivity. None of these substitutions affected virus infection in MDCK cells. We confirmed the previous observation of elevated basal expression of IFITM3 protein in HULEC and found that endosomal acidification is less efficient in HULEC than in MDCK cells. In accord with these findings, counteraction of IFITM3-mediated restriction by amphotericin B and reduction of endosomal pH by moderate acidification of the extracellular medium, enhanced infectivity of viruses with stable HA for HULEC without significant effect on infectivity for MDCK cells. Collectively, our results indicate that relatively high pH optimum of fusion of the HA of zoonotic H5N1 and H7N9 IAVs allows them to overcome antiviral effects of inefficient endosomal acidification and IFITM3 in human endothelial cells.IMPORTANCE Receptor specificity of the HA of IAVs is known to be a critical determinant of viral cell tropism. Here we show that fusion properties of the HA may also play a key role in the tropism. Thus, we demonstrate that IAVs having relatively low pH optimum of fusion, cannot efficiently infect human endothelial cells owing to their relatively high endosomal pH and increased expression of fusion-inhibiting IFITM3 protein. These restrictions can be overcome by IAVs with elevated pH of fusion, such as zoonotic H5N1 and H7N9. Our results illustrate that infectivity of IAVs depends on an interplay between HA conformational stability, endosomal acidification and IFITM3 expression in target cells and extracellular pH. Given significant variation of HA stability among animal, human and zoonotic IAVs, our findings prompt further studies on the fusion-dependent tropism of IAVs to different cell types in humans and its role in viral host range and pathogenicity.

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