Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus, causes acute encephalitis with high mortality in humans. We used a pair of virulent (RP-9) and attenuated (RP-2ms) variants of JEV to pull down the cell surface molecules bound with JEV particle; their identities were revealed by LC-MS/MS analysis. One major protein bound with RP-9 and weakly with RP-2ms was identified as the intermediate filament protein vimentin. Infection of RP-9 but not that of RP-2ms was blocked by anti-vimentin antibodies and by recombinant-expressed vimentin proteins. Knockdown of vimentin expression reduced the levels of viral binding and viral production of RP-9, but not that of RP-2ms. The different vimentin dependency for JEV infection could be attributed to the major structural envelope protein, as the recombinant RP-9 with an E-E138K mutation became resistant to anti-vimentin blockage. Furthermore, RP-2ms mainly depended on cell surface glycosaminoglycans for viral binding and it became vimentin-dependent only when binding to glycosaminoglycans was blocked. Thus, we suggest that vimentin contributes to virulent JEV infection and might be a new target to intervene in this deadly infection.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.