The recent introduction of West Nile virus (WNV) into the Western hemisphere resulted in significant human outbreaks causing disease of variable severity. Previous studies classified WNV into two major lineages (L1 and L2) that differ in their virulence. Since most L1 strains are glycosylated, we investigated the role of dendritic cell-specific ICAM-3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) in infection efficiency of glycosylated WNV strains. We showed that glycosylated strains, in contrast to non-glycosylated strains, infected DC-SIGN expressing cells more efficiently than DC-SIGN negative cells. Furthermore, WNV can productively infect cultured human dendritic cells (DCs) and infection of dendritic cells with the glycosylated WNV-NY99 L1 strain induced production of significantly more TNF-α and IFN-α in cultured DC, than infection with the non-glycosylated B956 L2 strain. Together, these results indicate that DC-SIGN enhances infection of cells by WNV glycosylated strains, which may at least in part explain the higher pathogenicity of glycosylated L1 strains versus most non-glycosylated L2 strains.

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Virus Research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Martina, B., Koraka, P., van den Doel, P., Rimmelzwaan, G., Haagmans, B., & Osterhaus, A. (2008). DC-SIGN enhances infection of cells with glycosylated West Nile virus in vitro and virus replication in human dendritic cells induces production of IFN-α and TNF-α. Virus Research, 135(1), 64–71. doi:10.1016/j.virusres.2008.02.008