Receptor determinants of zoonotic transmission of New World hemorrhagic fever arenaviruses

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Feb 19;105(7):2664-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0709254105. Epub 2008 Feb 11.


Transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) is a cellular receptor for the New World hemorrhagic fever arenaviruses Machupo (MACV), Junín (JUNV), and Guanarito (GTOV). Each of these viruses is specifically adapted to a distinct rodent host species, but all cause human disease. Here we compare the ability of these viruses to use various mammalian transferrin receptor 1 (TfR1) orthologs, including those of the South American rodents that serve as reservoirs for MACV, JUNV, and GTOV (Calomys callosus, Calomys musculinus, and Zygodontomys brevicauda, respectively). Retroviruses pseudotyped with MACV and JUNV but not GTOV glycoproteins (GPs) efficiently used C. callosus TfR1, whereas only JUNV GP could use C. musculinus TfR1. All three viruses efficiently used Z. brevicauda TfR1. TfR1 orthologs from related rodents, including house mouse (Mus musculus) and rat (Rattus norvegicus), did not support entry of these viruses. In contrast, these viruses efficiently used human and domestic cat TfR1 orthologs. We further show that a local region of the human TfR1 apical domain, including tyrosine 211, determined the efficiency with which MACV, JUNV, and GTOV used various TfR1 orthologs. Our data show that these New World arenaviruses are specifically adapted to the TfR1 orthologs of their respective rodent hosts and identify key commonalities between these orthologs and human TfR1 necessary for efficient transmission of these viruses to humans.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Arenaviridae Infections / genetics
  • Arenaviridae Infections / metabolism
  • Arenaviridae Infections / transmission*
  • Arenaviruses, New World / physiology*
  • Binding Sites
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Receptors, Transferrin / chemistry
  • Receptors, Transferrin / classification
  • Receptors, Transferrin / genetics
  • Receptors, Transferrin / metabolism*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Structural Homology, Protein
  • Tyrosine / genetics
  • Tyrosine / metabolism
  • Virus Internalization


  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Tyrosine
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/EU164540
  • GENBANK/EU164541
  • GENBANK/EU340259