Sphingomyelin generated by sphingomyelin synthase 1 is involved in attachment and infection with Japanese encephalitis virus
Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a mosquito-borne RNA virus which infects target cells via the envelope protein JEV-E. However, its cellular targets are largely unknown. To investigate the role of sphingomyelin (SM) in JEV infection, we utilized SM-deficient immortalized mouse embryonic fibroblasts (tMEF) established from SM synthase 1 (SMS1)/SMS2 double knockout mice. SMS deficiency significantly reduced both intracellular and extracellular JEV levels at 48 h after infection. Furthermore, after 15 min treatment with JEV, the early steps of JEV infection such as attachment and cell entry were also diminished in SMS-deficient tMEFs. The inhibition of JEV attachment and infection were recovered by overexpression of SMS1 but not SMS2, suggesting SMS1 contributes to SM production for JEV attachment and infection. Finally, intraperitoneal injection of JEV into SMS1-deficient mice showed an obvious decrease of JEV infection and its associated pathologies, such as meningitis, lymphocyte infiltration, and elevation of interleukin 6, compared with wild type mice. These results suggest that SMS1-generated SM on the plasma membrane is related in JEV attachment and subsequent infection, and may be a target for inhibition of JEV infection.
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