Studies of ebola virus glycoprotein-mediated entry and fusion by using pseudotyped human immunodeficiency virus type 1 virions: involvement of cytoskeletal proteins and enhancement by tumor necrosis factor alpha

J Virol. 2005 Jan;79(2):918-26. doi: 10.1128/JVI.79.2.918-926.2005.


The Ebola filoviruses are aggressive pathogens that cause severe and often lethal hemorrhagic fever syndromes in humans and nonhuman primates. To date, no effective therapies have been identified. To analyze the entry and fusion properties of Ebola virus, we adapted a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) virion-based fusion assay by substituting Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP) for the HIV-1 envelope. Fusion was detected by cleavage of the fluorogenic substrate CCF2 by beta-lactamase-Vpr incorporated into virions and released as a result of virion fusion. Entry and fusion induced by the Ebola virus GP occurred with much slower kinetics than with vesicular stomatitis virus G protein (VSV-G) and were blocked by depletion of membrane cholesterol and by inhibition of vesicular acidification with bafilomycin A1. These properties confirmed earlier studies and validated the assay for exploring other properties of Ebola virus GP-mediated entry and fusion. Entry and fusion of Ebola virus GP pseudotypes, but not VSV-G or HIV-1 Env pseudotypes, were impaired in the presence of the microtubule-disrupting agent nocodazole but were enhanced in the presence of the microtubule-stabilizing agent paclitaxel (Taxol). Agents that impaired microfilament function, including cytochalasin B, cytochalasin D, latrunculin A, and jasplakinolide, also inhibited Ebola virus GP-mediated entry and fusion. Together, these findings suggest that both microtubules and microfilaments may play a role in the effective trafficking of vesicles containing Ebola virions from the cell surface to the appropriate acidified vesicular compartment where fusion occurs. In terms of Ebola virus GP-mediated entry and fusion to various target cells, primary macrophages proved highly sensitive, while monocytes from the same donors displayed greatly reduced levels of entry and fusion. We further observed that tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is released by Ebola virus-infected monocytes/macrophages, enhanced Ebola virus GP-mediated entry and fusion to human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Thus, Ebola virus infection of one target cell may induce biological changes that facilitate infection of secondary target cells that play a key role in filovirus pathogenesis. Finally, these studies indicate that pseudotyping in the HIV-1 virion-based fusion assay may be a valuable approach to the study of entry and fusion properties mediated through the envelopes of other viral pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cholesterol / physiology
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / physiology*
  • Ebolavirus / physiology*
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Interleukin-1 / physiology
  • Macrophages / virology
  • Membrane Fusion*
  • Monocytes / virology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / physiology*
  • Virion / physiology*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Interleukin-1
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • Cholesterol