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Contemporary circulating enterovirus D68 strains show differential viral entry and replication in human neuronal cells

By David M Brown, Alison M Hixon, Lauren M Oldfield, Yun Zhang, Mark Novotny, Wei Wang, Suman R. Das, Reed S. Shabman, Kenneth L Tyler, Richard H Scheuermann

Posted 25 May 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/331116

Historically, enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) has primarily been associated with respiratory illnesses. However, in the summers of 2014 and 2016 EV-D68 outbreaks coincided with a spike in polio-like acute flaccid myelitis/paralysis (AFM/AFP) cases. This raised concerns that the EV-D68 virus could be the causative agent of AFM during these recent outbreaks. To assess the neurotropic capacity of EV-D68, we explored the use of the neuroblastoma-derived neuronal cell line, SH-SY5Y, as a tissue culture model to determine if differential infection permissibility is observed for different EV-D68 strains. In contrast to HeLa and A549 cells, which support viral infection of all EV-D68 strains tested, SH-SY5Y cells only supported infection by a subset of contemporary EV-D68 strains, including members from the 2014 outbreak. Viral replication and infectivity in SH-SY5Y was assessed using four different assays - infectious virus production, cytopathic effects, cellular ATP release, and VP1 capsid protein production - with similar results. Similar differential neurotropism was also observed in differentiated SH-SY5Y cells, primary human neuron cultures, and a mouse paralysis model. Using the SH-SY5Y cell culture model, we determined that barriers to viral entry was at least partly responsible for the differential infectivity phenotype, since transfection of genomic RNA into SH-SY5Y generated virions for all EV-D68 isolates, but only a single round of replication was observed from strains which could not directly infect SH-SY5Y. In addition to supporting virus replication and other functional studies, this cell culture model may help confirm epidemiological associations between EV-D68 strains and AFM and allow for the rapid identification of emerging neurotropic strains.

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