Viral infection, initiated by the landing of a virion on a cellular surface, is largely defined by the preliminary interactions established between viral particles and their receptors at the cell surface. While multiple parallel interactions would allow strong virus attachment, a low number of bonds could be preferred to allow lateral diffusion toward specific receptors and to promote efficient release of progeny virions from the cell surface. However, so far, the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of the multivalency in virus attachment to receptors are poorly understood. We introduce a new method to force-probe multivalent attachment directly on living cells, and we show, for the first time, direct evidence of a new mechanism by which a herpesvirus surface glycoprotein acts as a key negative regulator in the first step of herpesvirus binding. Using atomic force microscopy, we probe at the single-virion level the number and the strength of the bonds established with heparan sulfate both on model surfaces and on living cells. Our biophysical results, correlated with other techniques, show that the major envelope glycoprotein functions as a regulator of binding valency during both attachment and release steps, determining the binding, diffusion, and release potential of virions at the cellular surface.
Natural Sciences in General