The binding of influenza virus to the surface of cells and the internalization of virus particles by all or a subset of cells are key points in the pathogenesis of viral infection. The current studies established a method for discrimination of surface-bound from internalized influenza virus. Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) was attached to the viral hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins; the fluorescent virus retained infectivity. A flow cytometric technique was then adapted for study of virus-cell interactions, with addition of ethidium bromide to quench green fluorescence associated with FITC-labeled virus that was cell-bound but remained external. Ethidium bromide was excluded by intact cell membranes, and internalized virions retained green fluorescence. Cells could be examined by fluorescence microscopy or flow cytometry, with flow cytometry allowing rapid, kinetic assessment of large numbers of cells and subsets of virus-exposed cells. The data showed that, whereas a majority of both monocytes-macrophages and lymphocytes bound influenza virus, a large percentage of monocytes-macrophages but only a very small percentage of lymphocytes internalized the virus. This procedure provides a simple and effective method to distinguish surface-bound from internalized influenza virus, and allows precise kinetic analyses on large numbers of cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas