Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation





First Advisor

Dr. Rebecca E Dutch


Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a worldwide respiratory pathogen that belongs to the paramyxovirus family of enveloped viruses and affects primarily the pediatric, geriatric, and immunocompromised populations. Despite its prevalence and importance to human health, no therapies are available against this pathogen. For paramyxoviruses, it is believed that infection starts by attachment of the virus to the surface of the cell through the viral attachment protein followed by fusion between the viral and cellular membranes, a process mediated by the fusion (F) protein at the plasma membrane and at neutral pH. Previous work showed that HMPV infection can occur in the absence of the attachment protein and membrane fusion triggered by the F protein can be promoted by low pH. The work presented here are significant advances in our understanding of the entry process of HMPV. We confirmed that the F protein has receptorbinding functions and identified the cellular binding partner to be heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs). Additionally, we provide evidence that electrostatic interactions at two different regions play important roles for the proper folding, stability, and low pH triggering of the HMPV F protein. We confirmed the hypothesis that protonation of H435 is important for HMPV F triggering and provide additional evidence that the entry of HMPV may be occurring through endocytosis. Therefore, we hypothesize that HMPV entry occurs through endocytosis after viral binding to HSPGs through the F protein and membrane fusion occurs in an acidified compartment.

Included in

Biochemistry Commons