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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Targeted infection of endothelial cells by avian influenza virus A/FPV/Rostock/34 (H7N1) in chicken embryos.

The tissue tropism and spread of infection of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus A/FPV/Rostock/34 (H7N1) (FPV) were analyzed in 11-day-old chicken embryos. As shown by in situ hybridization, the virus caused generalized infection that was strictly confined to endothelial cells in all organs. Studies with reassortants of FPV and the apathogenic avian strain A/chick/Germany/N/49 (H10N7) revealed that endotheliotropism was linked to FPV hemagglutinin (HA). To further analyze the factors determining endotheliotropism, the HA-activating protease furin was cloned from chicken tissue. Ubiquitous expression of furin and other proprotein convertases in the chick embryo indicated that proteolytic activation of HA was not responsible for restriction of infection to the endothelium. To determine the expression of virus receptors in embryonic tissues, histochemical analysis of alpha2,3- and alpha2,6-linked neuraminic acid was carried out by lectin-binding assays. These receptors were found on endothelial cells and on several epithelial cells, but not on tissues surrounding endothelia. Finally, we analyzed the polarity of virus maturation in endothelial cells. Studies on cultured human endothelial cells employing confocal laser scanning microscopy revealed that HA is specifically targeted to the apical surface of these cells, and electron microscopy of embryonic tissues showed that virus maturation occurs also at the luminar side. Taken together, these observations indicate that endotheliotropism of FPV in the chicken embryo is determined, on one hand, by the high cleavability of HA, which mediates virus entry into the vascular system, and, on the other hand, by restricted receptor expression and polar budding, which prevent spread of infection into tissues surrounding endothelia.[1]


  1. Targeted infection of endothelial cells by avian influenza virus A/FPV/Rostock/34 (H7N1) in chicken embryos. Feldmann, A., Schäfer, M.K., Garten, W., Klenk, H.D. J. Virol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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