Following the accidental infection of a laboratory worker with San Miguel sea lion virus (SMSLV) in 1998, a related virus was isolated in cell culture and has shown the ability to replicate in human cells. Now, a study published in the journal mBio describes the characterisation of this strain, Hom-1, and the identification of the specific cell surface receptor involved in its infection of human cells. These findings add to the knowledge on a group of viruses that infect a broad range of animal hosts and are associated with various chronic and acute illnesses.
Receptor identification using cell microarray technology
The investigation into the mechanism by which human cells could be infected with Hom-1 was led by scientists at the National Insititutes for Health (NIH) and Oregon State University in the US in collaboration with Retrogenix.
The Retrogenix cell microarray technology was used to identify the specific human cell surface receptor for Hom-1. Over 3,500 expression vectors, each encoding an individual full-length human plasma membrane protein as well as ZsGreen1 protein, were arrayed in duplicate on microarray slides. The vectors were reverse transfected into human HEK293 cells – with ZsGreen1 serving as a control to ensure efficient transfection. Cells were fixed and Hom-1 virus-like particles (VLPs) were added to the slides. Hom-1 VLP binding was detected using fluorescent antibodies. A single interacting protein was identified: human junctional adhesion molecule-1 (hJAM1).