Endothelial targeting of cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) via surface vimentin

PLoS Pathog. 2009 May;5(5):e1000417. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000417. Epub 2009 May 1.


Cowpea mosaic virus (CPMV) is a plant comovirus in the picornavirus superfamily, and is used for a wide variety of biomedical and material science applications. Although its replication is restricted to plants, CPMV binds to and enters mammalian cells, including endothelial cells and particularly tumor neovascular endothelium in vivo. This natural capacity has lead to the use of CPMV as a sensor for intravital imaging of vascular development. Binding of CPMV to endothelial cells occurs via interaction with a 54 kD cell-surface protein, but this protein has not previously been identified. Here we identify the CPMV binding protein as a cell-surface form of the intermediate filament vimentin. The CPMV-vimentin interaction was established using proteomic screens and confirmed by direct interaction of CPMV with purified vimentin, as well as inhibition in a vimentin-knockout cell line. Vimentin and CPMV were also co-localized in vascular endothelium of mouse and rat in vivo. Together these studies indicate that surface vimentin mediates binding and may lead to internalization of CPMV in vivo, establishing surface vimentin as an important vascular endothelial ligand for nanoparticle targeting to tumors. These results also establish vimentin as a ligand for picornaviruses in both the plant and animal kingdoms of life. Since bacterial pathogens and several other classes of viruses also bind to surface vimentin, these studies suggest a common role for surface vimentin in pathogen transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aorta / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Comovirus / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / virology*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Protein Binding
  • Proteomics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Vimentin / metabolism*
  • Virion / metabolism


  • Vimentin