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Enterovirus-A71 (EV-A71) has been associated with severe neurological forms of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). EV-A71 infects motor neurons at neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) to invade the central nervous system (CNS). Here, we investigate the role of peripherin (PRPH) during EV-A71 infection, a type III intermediate neurofilament involved in neurodegenerative conditions. In mice infected with EV-A71, PRPH co-localizes with viral particles in the muscles at NMJs and in the spinal cord. In motor neuron-like and neuroblastoma cell lines, surface-expressed PRPH facilitates viral entry, while intracellular PRPH influences viral genome replication through interactions with structural and non-structural viral components. Importantly, PRPH does not play a role during infection with coxsackievirus A16, another causative agent of HFMD rarely associated with neurological complications, suggesting that EV-A71 ability to exploit PRPH represents a unique attribute for successful CNS invasion. Finally, we show that EV-A71 also exploits some of the many PRPH-interacting partners. Of these, small GTP-binding protein Rac1 represents a potential druggable host target to limit neuroinvasion of EV-A71. © 2021 The Authors.


Ze Qin Lim, Qing Yong Ng, Yukei Oo, Justin Jang Hann Chu, Shi Yan Ng, Siu Kwan Sze, Sylvie Alonso. Enterovirus-A71 exploits peripherin and Rac1 to invade the central nervous system. EMBO reports. 2021 Jun 04;22(6):e51777

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PMID: 33871166

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