A mutation in the Ebola virus envelope glycoprotein restricts viral entry in a host species and cell-type specific manner

Martinez O, Ndungo E, Tantral L, Miller EH, Leung LW, Chandran K, Basler CF. 2013. J Virol 87:3324-3334.

[doi: 10.1128/JVI.01598-12]  [Download PDF]


Zaire Ebola virus (EBOV) is a zoonotic pathogen that causes severe hemorrhagic fever in humans. A single viral glycoprotein (GP) mediates viral attachment and entry. Here, virus-like particle (VLP)-based entry assays demonstrate that a GP mutant, GP-F88A, which is defective for entry into a variety of human cell types, including antigen-presenting cells (APCs), such as macrophages and dendritic cells, can mediate viral entry into mouse CD11b APCs. Like that of wild-type GP (GP-wt), GP-F88A-mediated entry occurs via a macropinocytosis-related pathway and requires endosomal cysteine proteases and an intact fusion peptide. Several additional hydrophobic residues lie in close proximity to GP-F88, including L111, I113, L122, and F225. GP mutants in which these residues are mutated to alanine displayed preferential and often impaired entry into several cell types, although not in a species-specific manner. Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1) protein is an essential filovirus receptor that binds directly to GP. Overexpression of NPC1 was recently demonstrated to rescue GP-F88A-mediated entry. A quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) demonstrated that while the F88A mutation impairs GP binding to human NPC1 by 10-fold, it has little impact on GP binding to mouse NPC1. Interestingly, not all mouse macrophage cell lines permit GP-F88A entry. The IC-21 cell line was permissive, whereas RAW 264.7 cells were not. Quantitative reverse transcription (RT)-PCR assays demonstrate higher NPC1 levels in GP-F88A permissive IC-21 cells and mouse peritoneal macrophages than in RAW 264.7 cells. Cumulatively, these studies suggest an important role for NPC1 in the differential entry of GP-F88A into mouse versus human APCs.