Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) binding and infection are mediated by interactions between the HMPV fusion protein and heparan sulfate

J Virol. 2012 Mar;86(6):3230-43. doi: 10.1128/JVI.06706-11. Epub 2012 Jan 11.


Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a major worldwide respiratory pathogen that causes acute upper and lower respiratory tract disease. The mechanism by which this virus recognizes and gains access to its target cell is still largely unknown. In this study, we addressed the initial steps in virus binding and infection and found that the first binding partner for HMPV is heparan sulfate (HS). While wild-type CHO-K1 cells are permissive to HMPV infection, mutant cell lines lacking the ability to synthesize glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), specifically, heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs), were resistant to binding and infection by HMPV. The permissiveness to HMPV infection was also abolished when CHO-K1 cells were treated with heparinases. Importantly, using recombinant HMPV lacking both the G and small hydrophobic (SH) proteins, we report that this first virus-cell binding interaction is driven primarily by the fusion protein (HMPV F) and that this interaction is needed to establish a productive infection. Finally, HMPV binding to cells did not require β1 integrin expression, and RGD-mediated interactions were not essential in promoting HMPV F-mediated cell-to-cell membrane fusion. Cells lacking β1 integrin, however, were less permissive to HMPV infection, indicating that while β1 integrins play an important role in promoting HMPV infection, the interaction between integrins and HMPV occurs after the initial binding of HMPV F to heparan sulfate proteoglycans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Heparitin Sulfate / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Metapneumovirus / chemistry
  • Metapneumovirus / genetics
  • Metapneumovirus / metabolism*
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / metabolism*
  • Paramyxoviridae Infections / virology
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Virus
  • Viral Fusion Proteins
  • Heparitin Sulfate