The human cytomegalovirus trimer and pentamer promote sequential steps in entry into epithelial and endothelial cells at cell surfaces and endosomes

Jing Liu, Ted S. Jardetzky, Andrea L. Chin, David C. Johnson, Adam L. Vanarsdall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infects a wide variety of human cell types by different entry pathways that involve distinct envelope glycoprotein complexes that include gH/gL, a trimer complex consisting of gHgL/gO, and a pentamer complex consisting of gH/gL/UL128/UL130/UL131. We characterized the effects of soluble forms of these proteins on HCMV entry. Soluble trimer and pentamer blocked entry of HCMV into epithelial and endothelial cells, whereas soluble gH/gL did not. Trimer inhibited HCMV entry into fibroblast cells, but pentamer and gH/gL did not. Both trimer and pentamer bound to the surfaces of fibroblasts and epithelial cells, whereas gH/gL did not bind to either cell type. Cell surface binding of trimer and pentamer did not involve heparin sulfate moieties. The ability of soluble trimer to block entry of HCMV into epithelial cells did not involve platelet-derived growth factor PDGFRα, which has been reported as a trimer receptor for fibroblasts. Soluble trimer reduced the amount of virus particles that could be adsorbed onto the surface of epithelial cells, whereas soluble pentamer had no effect on virus adsorption. However, soluble pentamer reduced the ability of virus particles to exit from early endosomes into the cytoplasm and then travel to the nucleus. These studies support a model in which both the trimer and pentamer are required for HCMV entry into epithelial and endothelial cells, with trimer interacting with cell surface receptors other than PDGFR and pentamer acting later in the entry pathway to promote egress from endosomes. IMPORTANCE HCMV infects nearly 80% of the world's population and causes significant morbidity and mortality. The current antiviral agents used to treat HCMV infections are prone to resistance and can be toxic to patients, and there is no current vaccine against HCMV available. The data in this report will lead to a better understanding of how essential HCMV envelope glycoproteins function during infection of biologically important cell types and will have significant implications for understanding HCMV pathogenesis for developing new therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01336
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • HCMV entry
  • HCMV tropism
  • Pentamer
  • Trimer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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