The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes potentially fatal lower respiratory tract infection in infants. The molecular mechanism of RSV infection is unknown. Our data show that RSV colocalizes with intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on the HEp-2 epithelial cell surface. Furthermore, a neutralizing anti-ICAM-1 mAb significantly inhibits RSV infection and infection-induced secretion of proinflammatory chemokine RANTES and mediator ET-1 in HEp-2 cells. Similar decrease in RSV infection is also observed in A549, a type-2 alveolar epithelial cell line, and NHBE, the normal human bronchial epithelial cell line when pretreated with anti-ICAM-1 mAb prior to RSV infection. Incubation of virus with soluble ICAM-1 also significantly decreases RSV infection of epithelial cells. Binding studies using ELISA indicate that RSV binds to ICAM-1, which can be inhibited by an antibody to the fusion F protein and also the recombinant F protein can bind to soluble ICAM-1, suggesting that RSV interaction with ICAM-1 involves the F protein. It is thus concluded that ICAM-1 facilitates RSV entry and infection of human epithelial cells by binding to its F protein, which is important to viral replication and infection and may lend itself as a therapeutic target.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.