Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) infects a broad range of cell types in vitro, though little is known about the initial events of JEV infection. In the present study, we found that highly sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are involved in infection of both neurovirulent (RP-9) and attenuated (RP-2ms) JEV strains. Competition experiments using highly sulfated GAGs, heparin and dextran sulfate, demonstrated an inhibition of JEV's attachment and subsequent infection of BHK-21 cells. Treatment of target cells by a potent sulfation inhibitor, sodium chlorate, greatly reduced viral binding ability as well as infection, suggesting a critical role of GAGs' sulfation status on the cellular surface in JEV infection. This phenomenon was confirmed by the manifestation of a distinct binding efficiency of JEV to the wild-type CHO cell line and its mutants with defects in GAG biosynthesis. We also demonstrated the binding of JEV particles and virus envelope glycoprotein to immobilized heparin beads. Furthermore, the addition of heparin suppressed the cytopathic effects induced by JEV infection in cultured cells. Our results establish that the highly sulfated form of GAGs on cell surfaces plays a determining role in the early stage of in vitro JEV infection.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.