Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous herpesvirus that is able to infect fibroblastic, epithelial, endothelial and hematopoietic cells. Over the past ten years, several groups have provided direct evidence that dendritic cells (DCs) fully support the HCMV lytic cycle. We previously demonstrated that the C-type lectin dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) has a prominent role in the docking of HCMV on monocyte-derived DCs (MDDCs). The DC-SIGN/HCMV interaction was demonstrated to be a crucial and early event that substantially enhanced infection in trans, i.e., from one CMV-bearing cell to another non-infected cell (or trans-infection), and rendered susceptible cells fully permissive to HCMV infection. Nevertheless, nothing is yet known about how HCMV enters MDDCs. In this study, we demonstrated that VHL/E HCMV virions (an endothelio/dendrotropic strain) are first internalized into MDDCs by a macropinocytosis-like process in an actin- and cholesterol-dependent, but pH-independent, manner. We observed the accumulation of virions in large uncoated vesicles with endosomal features, and the virions remained as intact particles that retained infectious potential for several hours. This trans-infection property was specific to MDDCs because monocyte-derived macrophages or monocytes from the same donor were unable to allow the accumulation of and the subsequent transmission of the virus. Together, these data allowed us to delineate the early mechanisms of the internalization and entry of an endothelio/dendrotropic HCMV strain into human MDDCs and to propose that DCs can serve as a "Trojan horse" to convey CMV from entry sites to other locations that may favor the occurrence of either latency or acute infection. © 2012 Haspot et al.
Haspot, F., Lavault, A., Sinzger, C., Sampaio, K. L., Stierhof, Y. D., Pilet, P., … Halary, F. (2012). Human cytomegalovirus entry into dendritic cells occurs via a macropinocytosis-like pathway in a ph-independent and cholesterol-dependent manner. PLoS ONE, 7(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0034795