Ephrin receptor A2 is an epithelial cell receptor for Epstein-Barr virus entry

Hua Zhang, Yan Li, Hong Bo Wang, Ao Zhang, Mei Ling Chen, Zhi Xin Fang, Xiao Dong Dong, Shi Bing Li, Yong Du, Dan Xiong, Jiang Yi He, Man Zhi Li, Yan Min Liu, Ai Jun Zhou, Qian Zhong, Yi Xin Zeng, Elliott Kieff, Zhiqiang Zhang, Benjamin E. Gewurz, Bo ZhaoMu Sheng Zeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is causally associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, 10% of gastric carcinoma and various B cell lymphomas 1 . EBV infects both B cells and epithelial cells 2 . Recently, we reported that epidermal growth factor and Neuropilin 1 markedly enhanced EBV entry into nasopharyngeal epithelial cells 3 . However, knowledge of how EBV infects epithelial cells remains incomplete. To understand the mechanisms through which EBV infects epithelial cells, we integrated microarray and RNA interference screen analyses and found that Ephrin receptor A2 (EphA2) is important for EBV entry into the epithelial cells. EphA2 short interfering RNA knockdown or CRISPR-Cas9 knockout markedly reduced EBV epithelial cell infection, which was mostly restored by EphA2 complementary DNA rescue. EphA2 overexpression increased epithelial cell EBV infection. Soluble EphA2 protein, antibodies against EphA2, soluble EphA2 ligand EphrinA1, or the EphA2 inhibitor 2,5-dimethylpyrrolyl benzoic acid efficiently blocked EBV epithelial cell infection. Mechanistically, EphA2 interacted with EBV entry proteins gH/gL and gB to facilitate EBV internalization and fusion. The EphA2 Ephrin-binding domain and fibronectin type III repeats domain were essential for EphA2-mediated EBV infection, while the intracellular domain was dispensable. This is distinct from Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infection through EphA2 4 . Taken together, our results identify EphA2 as a critical player for EBV epithelial cell entry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-171
Number of pages8
JournalNature Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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