Role of human metapneumovirus glycoprotein G in modulation of immune responses

Thangam Sudha Velayutham, Teodora Ivanciuc, Roberto P. Garofalo, Antonella Casola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Human metapneumovirus (hMPV) is an important pathogen responsible for acute respiratory tract infections in children, the elderly, and immunocompromised patients, with no effective treatment or vaccine currently available. Knowledge of virus- and host-specific mechanisms contributing to the pathogenesis of hMPV infection is still limited. Studies have shown that hMPV surface glycoprotein G is an important virulence factor, by inhibiting innate immune signaling in airway epithelial cells and immune cells. In this study, we investigated the role of G protein in modulating innate and adaptive immune responses in mice infected with a recombinant virus with deletion of G protein (rhMPV-ΔG). Results show that rhMPV-ΔG was strongly attenuated, as it did not induce significant clinical disease, airway obstruction and airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), compared to infection with a control strain (rhMPV-WT). By analysis of cells in bronchoalveolar fluid and lung tissue, as well as cytokine production, we found that G protein mediates aspects of both innate and adaptive immune responses, including neutrophils, dendritic cells, natural killer cells and B cells. Lung T cells recruited in response to rhMPV-ΔG had a significantly higher activated phenotype compared to those present after rhMPV-WT infection. Despite highly attenuation characterized by low levels of replication in the lung, rhMPV-ΔG was able to induce neutralizing antibodies and to protect mice from a secondary hMPV challenge. However, challenged mice that had received rhMPV-ΔG as primary infection showed some signs of lung disease at the earliest time points, which were less evident in mice that had received the rhMPV-WT strain as primary infection. These results demonstrate some of the mechanisms by which G protein could contribute to airway disease and modulate immune response to hMPV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number962925
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Jul 25 2022


  • RNA virus
  • hMPV G protein
  • immune response
  • lung disease
  • mouse model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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