VIROLOGY: Let Me Out of Here

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Science  04 Oct 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5591, pp. 17a
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5591.17a

Adenovirus infects epithelial cells by binding to the coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptor (CAR), which is a cell adhesion molecule found on the basolateral cell surface, close to the intercellular tight junctions. In intact epithelia, CARs will be hidden from incoming viruses, but occasional breaches of epithelial integrity will be sufficient to establish a productive infection. After entry into cells, the virus replicates and progeny viruses are released.

Walters et al. discovered that in human airway epithelia, adenovirus was released on the basal side of the epithelial cell layer. Tight junctions seal the epithelial layer, meaning that the progeny viruses are trapped on the “wrong” side of the epithelium and lack access to the airways. Adenovirus circumvents this conundrum by using the viral fiber protein, which is the viral capsid protein that interacts with CAR. Adenovirus-infected cells produce excess fiber protein, which uncouples the CAR dimers that help to maintain tight junction integrity, resulting in an “unzipping” of the epithelial cells. The use of fiber-CAR interactions for both entry and escape is an efficient method for propagating virus within the epithelium and beyond. — SMH

Cell 110, 789 (2002).

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