Role of PDGF receptor-α during human cytomegalovirus entry into fibroblasts

Kai Wu, Adam Oberstein, Wei Wang, Thomas Shenk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Human CMV (HCMV) exhibits a broad cell tropism that depends on two virion glycoprotein complexes: A trimeric complex (gH/gL/gO) that facilitates viral infection primarily in fibroblasts and a pentameric complex (gH/gL/pUL128-pUL130-pUL131A) that mediates infection in epithelial and endothelial cells. We performed genomewide CRISPR screens in which the PDGF receptor-α (PDGFRα) was identified as the most significant cellular gene product essential for infection by HCMV virions containing only trimeric complex (trimer-only virus). Trimer-only virus did not enter PDGFRα knockout fibroblasts. By using knockout fibroblasts, the extracellular domain of PDGFRα required for virus entry was mapped, and the intracellular tyrosine kinase domain was shown to be nonessential. In addition, direct cell-to-cell spread of virus from knockout cells transfected with trimer-only viral DNA was blocked, despite the production of infectious virus in the transfected cells. In contrast to trimer-only virus, wild-type HCMV virions containing both trimeric and pentameric complexes entered PDGFRα knockout cells, reinforcing the view that fibroblasts contain a second, independent receptor for the pentameric complex. Importantly, however, wild-type virus entered the knockout fibroblasts at reduced efficiency compared with parental fibroblasts, arguing that the cellular receptor for the virion pentameric complex is limiting or that virions are produced containing different relative amounts of the two glycoprotein complexes. Finally, ectopic expression of PDGFRα in ARPE-19 epithelial cells and THP-1 monocytic cells, which have little to no endogenous PDGFRα expression, markedly enhanced their susceptibility to trimer-only virions. In sum, our data clarify several key determinants of HCMV tropism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E9889-E9898
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 16 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Cellular receptor
  • Herpesvirus
  • Tropism


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