Cell surface heparan sulfate is a receptor for attachment of envelope protein-free retrovirus-like particles and VSV-G pseudotyped MLV-derived retrovirus vectors to target cells

Ghiabe H Guibinga, Atsushi Miyanohara, Jeffrey D Esko, Theodore Friedmann
Molecular Therapy 2002, 5 (5 Pt 1): 538-46
Non-infectious, envelope protein-free, retrovirus-like particles (VLP) derived from either Moloney murine leukemia virus (MLV) or human HIV are able to bind efficiently to, but not infect, target cells. Upon subsequent addition to the bound particles of the G protein of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV-G), an efficient surrogate retrovirus envelope protein, the VLP are efficiently taken up by the cells to produce infection. Cell attachment of the VLP is efficiently inhibited by soluble heparin and dextran sulfate and less efficiently abrogated by several other glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) including chondroitin sulfate A and chondroitin sulfate B (dermatan sulfate), as determined by deconvolution microscopic immunodetection of the viral gag protein and by quantitative binding studies of metabolically labeled (35)S-VLP. Enzymatic digestion of heparan sulfate (HS) from the cell surface with heparinase I also reduces VLP binding. Furthermore, VLP adsorption onto several CHO cell lines variably deficient in cell surface GAG is significantly but incompletely abrogated. De-sulfated heparins are less efficient than native heparin in inhibiting the Polybrene-mediated binding of VLP, whereas growth of human cells in the presence of sodium chlorate leads to significant reduction of Polybrene-mediated VLP binding. In addition, specific inhibition of VLP binding and infectivity of mature infectious VSV-G-pseudotyped virus is observed in the presence of heparin and HS under Polybrene-free conditions. We conclude from these studies that the presence of Polybrene, the degree of sulfation of cell surface GAG, and possibly the presence of charged cell surface macromolecules create an electrostatic environment that promotes optimum binding of VLP to cells. Additionally, our results demonstrate that, in the absence of Polybrene, initial attachments of non-infectious, envelope protein-free VLP and probably mature infectious virus particles are mediated by interactions of the virus particles with cell surface heparan sulfate, and possibly with other GAG molecules.

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