The CD46 ectodomain participates in human cytomegalovirus infection of epithelial cells

J Gen Virol. 2023 Sep;104(9):001892. doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.001892.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) primary infections are typically asymptomatic in healthy individuals yet can cause increased morbidity and mortality in organ transplant recipients, AIDS patients, neonates, and the elderly. The successful, widespread dissemination of this virus among the population can be attributed in part to its wide cellular tropism and ability to establish life-long latency. HCMV infection is a multi-step process that requires numerous cellular and viral factors. The viral envelope consists of envelope protein complexes that interact with cellular factors; such interactions dictate virus recognition and attachment to different cell types, followed by fusion either at the cell membrane or within an endocytic vesicle. Several HCMV entry factors, including neuropilin-2 (Nrp2), THBD, CD147, OR14I1, and CD46, are characterized as participating in HCMV pentamer-specific entry of non-fibroblast cells such as epithelial, trophoblast, and endothelial cells, respectively. This study focuses on characterizing the structural elements of CD46 that impact HCMV infection. Infectivity studies of wild-type and CD46 knockout epithelial cells demonstrated that levels of CD46 expressed on the cell surface were directly related to HCMV infectivity. Overexpression of CD46 isomers BC1, BC2, and C2 enhanced infection. Further, CD46 knockout epithelial cells expressing CD46 deletion and chimeric molecules identified that the intact ectodomain was critical for rescue of HCMV infection in CD46 knockout cells. Collectively, these data support a model that the extracellular domain of CD46 participates in HCMV infection due to its surface expression.

Keywords: CD46; epithelial cells; fibroblasts; human cytomegalovirus; virus entry.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane
  • Cytomegalovirus / genetics
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections* / genetics
  • Endothelial Cells*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Membrane Cofactor Protein* / genetics


  • CD46 protein, human
  • Membrane Cofactor Protein