Herpes simplex virus entry into cells requires the binding of envelope glycoprotein D (gD) to an entry receptor. Depending on the cell, entry occurs by different mechanisms, including fusion at the cell surface or endocytosis. Here we examined the entry mechanism through a non-HSV receptor mediated by a soluble bi-specific adapter protein composed of recognition elements for gD and the EGF receptor (EGFR). Virus entered into endosomes using either EGF or an EGFR-specific single chain antibody (scFv) for receptor recognition. Infection was less efficient with the EGF adapter which could be attributed to its weaker binding to a viral gD. Infection mediated by the scFv adapter was pH sensitive, indicating that gD-EGFR bridging alone was insufficient for capsid release from endosomes. We also show that the scFv adapter enhanced infection of EGFR-expressing tumor tissue in vivo. Our results indicate that adapters may retarget HSV infection without drastically changing the entry mechanism.
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