Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells are naturally resistant to infection by amphotropic and ecotropic murine retroviruses, but they become susceptible after expressing corresponding receptors rRAM-1 and mCAT-1, respectively, and they then form abundant syncytia when exposed to these viruses. The fusogenic activities of CHO cell clones increase much more strongly with levels of receptor expression than do their susceptibilities to infection, suggesting that the assembly of receptor clusters may limit syncytium formation. However, other cell lines are not fusogenic, even if they express larger amounts of receptors. Our results suggest that a factor that is relatively abundant or active in CHO cells may functionally interact with rRAM-1 and mCAT-1 in a pathway that enables receptor-bearing membranes to fuse with membranes that contain viral envelope glycoproteins. In the case of CHO/rRAM- 1 cells, syncytia form at foci of amphotropic 4070A virus infection by fusion-from-within of infected with uninfected cells. This fusogenic propensity is a sole property of the uninfected CHO/rRAM-1 cells, which fuse in cocultures with any cells infected with 4070A virus. With CHO/mCAT-1 cells, fusogenicity is even greater and involves fusion-from-without by ecotropic virion particles. In contrast to infection, which behaves as expected for a process limited by ecotropic virus attachment to single receptors, fusion-from-without increases dramatically for cells that express the highest levels of mCAT-1. We propose that infection and syncytium formation are limited at distinct steps of a common pathway that requires virus binding to a single receptor, assembly of multivalent virus-receptor complexes, structural changes in viral envelope glycoproteins, and membrane fusion. The limiting step in syncytium formation is a cellular process that depends on receptor clustering and is relatively active in CHO cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science