Molecular Mechanisms Underlying the Cellular Entry and Host Range Restriction of Lujo Virus

mBio. 2021 Feb 22;13(1):e0306021. doi: 10.1128/mbio.03060-21. Epub 2022 Feb 15.


Like other human-pathogenic arenaviruses, Lujo virus (LUJV) is a causative agent of viral hemorrhagic fever in humans. LUJV infects humans with high mortality rates, but the susceptibilities of other animal species and the molecular determinants of its host specificity remain unknown. We found that mouse- and hamster-derived cell lines (NIH 3T3 and BHK, respectively) were less susceptible to a replication-incompetent recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (Indiana) pseudotyped with the LUJV glycoprotein (GP) (VSVΔG*-LUJV/GP) than were human-derived cell lines (HEK293T and Huh7). To determine the cellular factors involved in the differential susceptibilities between the human and mouse cell lines, we focused on the CD63 molecule, which is required for pH-activated GP-mediated membrane fusion during LUJV entry into host cells. The exogenous introduction of human CD63, but not mouse or hamster CD63, into BHK cells significantly increased susceptibility to VSVΔG*-LUJV/GP. Using chimeric human-mouse CD63 proteins, we found that the amino acid residues at positions 141 to 150 in the large extracellular loop (LEL) region of CD63 were important for the cellular entry of VSVΔG*-LUJV/GP. By site-directed mutagenesis, we further determined that a phenylalanine at position 143 in human CD63 was the key residue for efficient membrane fusion and VSVΔG*-LUJV/GP infection. Our data suggest that the interaction of LUJV GP with the LEL region of CD63 is essential for cell susceptibility to LUJV, thus providing new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the cellular entry of LUJV and the host range restriction of this virus. IMPORTANCE Lujo virus (LUJV) infects humans with high mortality rates, but the host range of LUJV remains unknown. We found that rodent-derived cell lines were less susceptible to LUJV infection than were human-derived cell lines, and the differential susceptibilities were determined by the difference of CD63, the intercellular receptor of LUJV. We further identified an amino acid residue on human CD63 important for efficient LUJV infection. These results suggest that the interaction between LUJV glycoprotein and CD63 is one of the important factors determining the host range of LUJV. Our findings on the CD63-regulated susceptibilities of the cell lines to LUJV infection provide important information for the development of anti-LUJV drugs as well as the identification of natural hosts of LUJV. Importantly, our data support a concept explaining the molecular mechanism underlying viral tropisms controlled by endosomal receptors.

Keywords: CD63; LUJV; Lujo virus; arenavirus; glycoprotein; host range; membrane fusion; viral entry.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arenaviridae Infections* / pathology
  • Arenavirus*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Host Specificity
  • Humans
  • Lujo virus* / metabolism
  • Virus Internalization


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Amino Acids