Lassa virus (LASV) is an Old World arenavirus, endemic to West Africa, capable of causing hemorrhagic fever. Currently, there are no approved vaccines or effective antivirals for LASV. However, thorough understanding of the LASV glycoprotein and entry into host cells could accelerate therapeutic design. LASV entry is a two-step process involving the viral glycoprotein (GP). First, the GP subunit 1 (GP1) binds to the cell surface receptor and the viral particle is engulfed into an endosome. Next, the drop in pH triggers GP rearrangements, which ultimately leads to the GP subunit 2 (GP2) forming a six-helix-bundle (6HB). The process of GP2 forming 6HB fuses the lysosomal membrane with the LASV envelope, allowing the LASV genome to enter the host cell. The aim of this study was to identify residues in GP2 that are crucial for LASV entry. To achieve this, we performed alanine scanning mutagenesis on GP2 residues. We tested these mutant GPs for efficient GP1-GP2 cleavage, cell-to-cell membrane fusion, and transduction into cells expressing α-dystroglycan and secondary LASV receptors. In total, we identified seven GP2 mutants that were cleaved efficiently but were unable to effectively transduce cells: GP-L280A, GP-L285A/I286A, GP-I323A, GP-L394A, GP-I403A, GP-L415A, and GP-R422A. Therefore, the data suggest these residues are critical for GP2 function in LASV entry.
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