Cell-Cell Fusion Assays to Study Henipavirus Entry and Evaluate Therapeutics.Methods Mol Biol. 2023; 2682:59-69.MM
Henipaviruses include the deadly zoonotic Nipah (NiV) and Hendra (HeV) paramyxoviruses, which have caused recurring outbreaks in human populations. A hallmark of henipavirus infection is the induction of cell-cell fusion (syncytia), caused by the expression of the attachment (G) and fusion (F) glycoproteins on the surface of infected cells. The interactions of G and F with each other and with receptors on cellular plasma membranes drive both viral entry and syncytia formation and are thus of great interest. While F shares structural and functional homologies with class I fusion proteins of other viruses such as influenza and human immunodeficiency viruses, the intricate interactions between the G and F glycoproteins allow for unique approaches to studying the class I membrane fusion process. This allows us to study cell-cell fusion and viral entry kinetics for BSL-4 pathogens such as NiV and HeV under BSL-2 conditions using recombinant DNA techniques. Here, we present approaches to studying henipavirus-induced membrane fusion for currently identified and emerging henipaviruses, including more traditional syncytia counting-based cell-cell fusion assay and a new heterologous fluorescent dye exchange cell-cell fusion assay.