Previous studies in our laboratory have identified equine CXCL16 (EqCXCL16) to be a candidate molecule and possible cell entry receptor for equine arteritis virus (EAV). In horses, the CXCL16 gene is located on equine chromosome 11 (ECA11) and encodes a glycosylated, type I transmembrane protein with 247 amino acids. Stable transfection of HEK-293T cells with plasmid DNA carrying EqCXCL16 (HEK-EqCXCL16 cells) increased the proportion of the cell population permissive to EAV infection from < 3% to almost 100%. The increase in permissiveness was blocked either by transfection of HEK-EqCXCL16 cells with small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) directed against EqCXCL16 or by pretreatment with guinea pig polyclonal antibody against EqCXCL16 protein (Gp anti-EqCXCL16 pAb). Furthermore, using a virus overlay protein-binding assay (VOPBA) in combination with far-Western blotting, gradient-purified EAV particles were shown to bind directly to the EqCXCL16 protein in vitro. The binding of biotinylated virulent EAV strain Bucyrus at 4°C was significantly higher in HEK-EqCXCL16 cells than nontransfected HEK-293T cells. Finally, the results demonstrated that EAV preferentially infects subpopulations of horse CD14+ monocytes expressing EqCXCL16 and that infection of these cells is significantly reduced by pretreatment with Gp anti-EqCXCL16 pAb. The collective data from this study provide confirmatory evidence that the transmembrane form of EqCXCL16 likely plays a major role in EAV host cell entry processes, possibly acting as a primary receptor molecule for this virus.

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Published in Journal of Virology, v. 90, no. 7, p. 3366-3384.

Copyright © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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USDA | National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) provided funding to Udeni B. R Balasuriya under grant number 2013-68004-20360.