SLAM- and nectin-4-independent noncytolytic spread of canine distemper virus in astrocytes.

Cardoso Alves, Lisa Alexandra; Khosravi, Mojtaba; Avila Sanchez, Mislay; Ader-Ebert, Nadine; Bringolf, Fanny Anne; Zurbriggen, Andreas; Vandevelde, Marc; Plattet, Philippe (2015). SLAM- and nectin-4-independent noncytolytic spread of canine distemper virus in astrocytes. Journal of virology, 89(10), pp. 5724-5733. American Society for Microbiology 10.1128/JVI.00004-15

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Measles and canine distemper viruses (MeV and CDV, respectively) first replicate in lymphatic and epithelial tissues by using SLAM and nectin-4 as entry receptors, respectively. The viruses may also invade the brain to establish persistent infections, triggering fatal complications, such as subacute sclerosis pan-encephalitis (SSPE) in MeV infection or chronic, multiple sclerosis-like, multifocal demyelinating lesions in the case of CDV infection. In both diseases, persistence is mediated by viral nucleocapsids that do not require packaging into particles for infectivity but are directly transmitted from cell to cell (neurons in SSPE or astrocytes in distemper encephalitis), presumably by relying on restricted microfusion events. Indeed, although morphological evidence of fusion remained undetectable, viral fusion machineries and, thus, a putative cellular receptor, were shown to contribute to persistent infections. Here, we first showed that nectin-4-dependent cell-cell fusion in Vero cells, triggered by a demyelinating CDV strain, remained extremely limited, thereby supporting a potential role of nectin-4 in mediating persistent infections in astrocytes. However, nectin-4 could not be detected in either primary cultured astrocytes or the white matter of tissue sections. In addition, a bioengineered "nectin-4-blind" recombinant CDV retained full cell-to-cell transmission efficacy in primary astrocytes. Combined with our previous report demonstrating the absence of SLAM expression in astrocytes, these findings are suggestive for the existence of a hitherto unrecognized third CDV receptor expressed by glial cells that contributes to the induction of noncytolytic cell-to-cell viral transmission in astrocytes.


While persistent measles virus (MeV) infection induces SSPE in humans, persistent canine distemper virus (CDV) infection causes chronic progressive or relapsing demyelination in carnivores. Common to both central nervous system (CNS) infections is that persistence is based on noncytolytic cell-to-cell spread, which, in the case of CDV, was demonstrated to rely on functional membrane fusion machinery complexes. This inferred a mechanism where nucleocapsids are transmitted through macroscopically invisible microfusion events between infected and target cells. Here, we provide evidence that CDV induces such microfusions in a SLAM- and nectin-4-independent manner, thereby strongly suggesting the existence of a third receptor expressed in glial cells (referred to as GliaR). We propose that GliaR governs intercellular transfer of nucleocapsids and hence contributes to viral persistence in the brain and ensuing demyelinating lesions.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Research Foci > NeuroCenter
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV) > DKV - Clinical Neurology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine (DKV)
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Experimental Clinical Research
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Cardoso Alves, Lisa Alexandra, Khosravi, Mojtaba, Avila Sánchez, Mislay, Ebert, Nadine, Bringolf, Fanny Anne, Zurbriggen, Andreas (A), Vandevelde, Marc, Plattet, Philippe


600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




American Society for Microbiology




Susanne Portner

Date Deposited:

07 Nov 2016 16:50

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:35

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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