Echoviruses are amongst the most common causative agents of aseptic meningitis worldwide and are particularly devastating in the neonatal population, where they are associated with severe hepatitis, neurological disease, including meningitis and encephalitis, and even death. Here, we identify the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) as a pan-echovirus receptor. We show that loss of expression of FcRn or its binding partner beta 2 microglobulin (β2M) renders cells resistant to infection by a panel of echoviruses at the stage of virus attachment, and that a blocking antibody to β2M inhibits echovirus infection in cell lines and in primary human intestinal epithelial cells. We also show that expression of human, but not mouse, FcRn renders nonpermissive human and mouse cells sensitive to echovirus infection and that the extracellular domain of human FcRn directly binds echovirus particles and neutralizes infection. Lastly, we show that neonatal mice expressing human FcRn are more susceptible to echovirus infection by the enteral route. Our findings thus identify FcRn as a pan-echovirus receptor, which may explain the enhanced susceptibility of neonates to echovirus infections.
Keywords: FcRn; echovirus; enterovirus; neonatal Fc receptor; virus receptor.