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PLoS pathogens

Rabies Internalizes into Primary Peripheral Neurons via Clathrin Coated Pits and Requires Fusion at the Cell Body.


PMID 27463226

Abstract

The single glycoprotein (G) of rabies virus (RABV) dictates all viral entry steps from receptor engagement to membrane fusion. To study the uptake of RABV into primary neuronal cells in culture, we generated a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus in which the G protein was replaced with that of the neurotropic RABV CVS-11 strain (rVSV CVS G). Using microfluidic compartmentalized culture, we examined the uptake of single virions into the termini of primary neurons of the dorsal root ganglion and ventral spinal cord. By pharmacologically disrupting endocytosis at the distal neurites, we demonstrate that rVSV CVS G uptake and infection are dependent on dynamin. Imaging of single virion uptake with fluorescent endocytic markers further identifies endocytosis via clathrin-coated pits as the predominant internalization mechanism. Transmission electron micrographs also reveal the presence of viral particles in vesicular structures consistent with incompletely coated clathrin pits. This work extends our previous findings of clathrin-mediated uptake of RABV into epithelial cells to two neuronal subtypes involved in rabies infection in vivo. Chemical perturbation of endosomal acidification in the neurite or somal compartment further shows that establishment of infection requires pH-dependent fusion of virions at the cell body. These findings correlate infectivity to existing single particle evidence of long-range endosomal transport of RABV and clathrin dependent uptake at the plasma membrane.