A CRISPR Screen Identifies the Cell Polarity Determinant Crumbs 3 as an Adeno-associated Virus Restriction Factor in Hepatocytes

J Virol. 2019 Oct 15;93(21):e00943-19. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00943-19. Print 2019 Nov 1.


Adeno-associated viruses (AAV) are helper-dependent parvoviruses that have been developed into promising gene therapy vectors. Many studies, including a recent unbiased genomic screen, have identified host factors essential for AAV cell entry, but no genome-wide screens that address inhibitory host factors have been reported. Here, we utilize a novel CRISPR screen to identify AAV restriction factors in a human hepatocyte cell line. The major hit from our gain-of-function screen is the apical polarity determinant Crumbs 3 (Crb3). Knockout (KO) of Crb3 enhances AAV transduction, while overexpression exerts the opposite effect. Further, Crb3 appears to restrict AAV transduction in a serotype- and cell type-specific manner. Particularly, for AAV serotype 9 and a rationally engineered AAV variant, we demonstrate that increased availability of galactosylated glycans on the surfaces of Crb3 KO cells, but not the universal AAV receptor, leads to increased capsid attachment and enhanced transduction. We postulate that Crb3 could serve as a key molecular determinant that restricts the availability of AAV glycan attachment factors on the cell surface by maintaining apical-basal polarity and tight junction integrity.IMPORTANCE Adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) have recently emerged at the forefront as gene therapy vectors; however, our understanding of host factors that influence AAV transduction in different cell types is still evolving. In the present study, we perform a genome-scale CRISPR knockout screen to identify cellular host factors that restrict AAV infection in hepatocyte cultures. We discover that Crumbs 3, which determines cellular polarity, also influences the distribution of certain carbohydrate attachment factors on the cell surface. This in turn affects the ability of virions to bind and enter the cells. This study underscores the importance of cell polarity in AAV transduction and provides a potential molecular basis for the differential infectious mechanism(s) in cell culture versus organ systems.

Keywords: Adeno-associated virus; CRISPR; carbohydrate; cell polarity; parvovirus; receptor.

MeSH terms

  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Capsid / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Polarity
  • Claudins / genetics
  • Claudins / metabolism
  • Dependovirus / genetics
  • Dependovirus / physiology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / physiology
  • Hepatocytes / virology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Parvoviridae Infections / metabolism
  • Parvoviridae Infections / virology*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Serogroup
  • Tight Junctions
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Virus Attachment


  • CRB3 protein, human
  • Claudins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Polysaccharides
  • claudin 15