Canine distemper virus with the intact C protein has the potential to replicate in human epithelial cells by using human nectin4 as a receptor.
Recent outbreaks in monkeys have proven that canine distemper virus (CDV) causes diseases in a wide range of mammals. CDV uses SLAM and nectin4 as receptors to replicate in susceptible animals. Here, we show that human nectin4, but not human SLAM, is fully functional as a CDV receptor. The CDV Ac96I strain hardly replicated in nectin4-expressing human epithelial NCI-H358 cells, but readily adapted to grow in them. Unsurprisingly, no amino acid change in the H protein was required for the adaptation. The original Ac96I strain possessed a truncated C protein, and a subpopulation possessing the intact C protein was selected after growth in NCI-H358 cells. Other CDV strains possessing the intact C protein showed significantly higher growth abilities in NCI-H358 cells than the Ac96I strain with the truncated C protein. These findings suggest that the C protein is functional in human epithelial cells and critical for CDV replication in them.