Receptors in host pathogen interactions between human cytomegalovirus and the placenta during congenital infection

Rev Med Virol. 2021 Nov;31(6):e2233. doi: 10.1002/rmv.2233. Epub 2021 Mar 11.


Cellular receptors in human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) mother to child transmission play an important role in congenital infection. Placental trophoblast cells are a significant cell type in placental development, placental functional processes, and in HCMV transmission. Different cells within the placental floating and chorionic villi present alternate receptors for HCMV cell entry. Syncytiotrophoblasts present neonatal Fc receptors that bind and transport circulating maternal immunoglobulin G across the placental interface which can also be bound to HCMV virions, facilitating viral entry into the placenta and foetal circulation. Cytotrophoblast express HCMV receptors including integrin-α1β1, integrin-αVβ3, epidermal growth factor receptor and platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha. The latter interacts with HCMV glycoprotein-H, glycoprotein-L and glycoprotein-O (gH/gL/gO) trimers (predominantly in placental fibroblasts) and the gH/gL/pUL128, UL130-UL131A pentameric complex in other placental cell types. The pentameric complex allows viral tropism of placental trophoblasts, endothelial cells, epithelial cells, leukocytes and monocytes. This review outlines HCMV ligands and target receptor proteins in congenital HCMV infection.

Keywords: congenital infection; cytomegalovirus; placenta; pregnancy; receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytomegalovirus*
  • Endothelial Cells*
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Placenta / virology*
  • Pregnancy


  • Glycoproteins