During natural transmission, bunyaviruses are introduced into the skin through arthropod bites, and dermal dendritic cells (DCs) are the first to encounter incoming viruses. DC-SIGN is a C-type lectin highly expressed on the surface of dermal DCs. We found that several arthropod-borne phleboviruses (Bunyaviridae), including Rift Valley fever and Uukuniemi viruses, exploit DC-SIGN to infect DCs and other DC-SIGN-expressing cells. DC-SIGN binds the virus directly via interactions with high-mannose N-glycans on the viral glycoproteins and is required for virus internalization and infection. In live cells, virus-induced clustering of cell surface DC-SIGN could be visualized. An endocytosis-defective mutant of DC-SIGN was unable to mediate virus uptake, indicating that DC-SIGN is an authentic receptor required for both attachment and endocytosis. After internalization, viruses separated from DC-SIGN and underwent trafficking to late endosomes. Our study provides real-time visualization of virus-receptor interactions on the cell surface and establishes DC-SIGN as a phlebovirus entry receptor.
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