Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 35862713
Link to DOI – 10.1128/jvi.00608-22
J Virol 2022 07; 96(14): e0060822
Bats are natural reservoirs of numerous coronaviruses, including the potential ancestor of SARS-CoV-2. Knowledge concerning the interaction between coronaviruses and bat cells is sparse. We investigated the ability of primary cells from Rhinolophus and Myotis species, as well as of established and novel cell lines from Myotis myotis, Eptesicus serotinus, Tadarida brasiliensis, and Nyctalus noctula, to support SARS-CoV-2 replication. None of these cells were permissive to infection, not even the ones expressing detectable levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which serves as the viral receptor in many mammalian species. The resistance to infection was overcome by expression of human ACE2 (hACE2) in three cell lines, suggesting that the restriction to viral replication was due to a low expression of bat ACE2 (bACE2) or the absence of bACE2 binding in these cells. Infectious virions were produced but not released from hACE2-transduced M. myotis brain cells. E. serotinus brain cells and M. myotis nasal epithelial cells expressing hACE2 efficiently controlled viral replication, which correlated with a potent interferon response. Our data highlight the existence of species-specific and cell-specific molecular barriers to viral replication in bat cells. These novel chiropteran cellular models are valuable tools to investigate the evolutionary relationships between bats and coronaviruses. IMPORTANCE Bats are host ancestors of several viruses that cause serious disease in humans, as illustrated by the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Progress in investigating bat-virus interactions has been hampered by a limited number of available bat cellular models. We have generated primary cells and cell lines from several bat species that are relevant for coronavirus research. The various permissivities of the cells to SARS-CoV-2 infection offered the opportunity to uncover some species-specific molecular restrictions to viral replication. All bat cells exhibited a potent entry-dependent restriction. Once this block was overcome by overexpression of human ACE2, which serves at the viral receptor, two bat cell lines controlled well viral replication, which correlated with the inability of the virus to counteract antiviral responses. Other cells potently inhibited viral release. Our novel bat cellular models contribute to a better understanding of the molecular interplays between bat cells and viruses.