Motility of human renal cells is disturbed by infection with pathogenic hantaviruses

Stefan Hägele, Alexander Müller, Christian Nusshag, Jochen Reiser, Martin Zeier, Ellen Krautkrämer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) caused by pathogenic hantaviruses in Europe and Asia is often characterized by acute kidney injury (AKI) with massive proteinuria. Renal filtration depends on the integrity of epithelial and endothelial monolayers in the tubular and glomerular apparatus. Tubular and glomerular cells represent target cells of hantavirus infection. However, the detailed mechanisms of renal impairment induced by hantaviruses are not well understood. Methods: We analyzed the cellular consequences of hantavirus infection by measuring adhesion and migration capacity of human renal cells infected with Puumala (PUUV) or Hantaan (HTNV) virus. The impact of hantaviral nucleocapsid proteins (N proteins) on motility was examined by transfection of podocytes. Results: Infection of kidney cells with hantavirus species PUUV and HTNV causes a significant reduction of migration capacity. The impaired motility depends on viral replication and transfection of podocytes with N protein of PUUV or HTNV reveals that the expression of N protein alone is sufficient to deteriorate podocyte function. The cellular effects are more pronounced for the more pathogenic HTNV than for PUUV that causes a milder form of HFRS. Conclusions: The direct impairment of migration capacity of renal cells by hantaviral N proteins may contribute substantially to proteinuria observed in the clinical picture of hantavirus infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number645
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 12 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Glomerulus
  • Hantavirus
  • Kidney
  • Podocytes
  • Proteinuria
  • Tubular epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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