Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) purified from urine or tissue culture supernatant has been reported to contain β-microglobulin (β2m), which forms the light chain of HLA class I molecules. It has been postulated that HCMV covered with β2m binds to HLA class I α-chains at the cell surface. In the present study we used transfected human and mouse cell lines expressing distinct allelic forms of HLA class I and β2m to determine whether HLA class I molecules could act as cellular receptors for HCMV. The susceptibility of cells to HCMV infection was estimated by calculating the percentage of cells expressing HCMV immediate early antigens. Although the results showed some variation between different transfected cell clones, no correlation was found between expression of HLA class I on the cell membrane and HCMV infection. Preincubation of HLA class I-positive cells with antibodies against HLA class I antigens inhibited HCMV infection after binding and adsorption of HCMV. Trypsin prevented HCMV infection of both class I-positive and class I-negative cells. We conclude that these results do not support the assumption that HLA class I molecules are functional receptors for HCMV.


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