Virologica Sinica

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 270–277 | Cite as

The Susceptibility of Primary Dermis Fibroblasts from the Chinese Tree Shrew to Human Cytomegalovirus Infection

  • Shu-Wei Dong
  • Ling-Shuai Jiao
  • Ming Yang
  • Ying-Liang Duan
  • Yi-Bo Chen
  • Fei Zhao
  • A-Mei Zhang
  • Li Liu
  • Min-Hua LuoEmail author
  • Xue-Shan XiaEmail author
Research Article


As a universal pathogen leading to neonatal defects and transplant failure, human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has strict species specificity and this has prevented the development of a suitable animal model for the pathogenesis study. The mechanism of cross-species barrier remains elusive and there are so far no non-human cell culture models that support HCMV replication. The Chinese tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri chinensis) is a small laboratory animal and evolutionary closely related with primates. We investigated the susceptibility of primary tree shrew dermis fibroblasts (TSDF) to HCMV infection. Infection with a GFP-expressing HCMV virus resulted in green fluorescence in infected cells with the expression of IE1, UL44 and pp28. The titers of cell-free viruses reached 103 PFU/mL at 96 hpi, compared to titers of 104 PFU/mL observed in primary human foreskin fibroblasts. Our results suggested that TSDF was semi-permissive for HCMV infection. The TSDF model could be further used to investigate key factors influencing cross-species multiplication of HCMV.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) Primary tree shrew dermis fibroblasts (TSDF) Cross-species infection Semi-permissiveness 



This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Project of China (2017YFC1309302), the Applied Basic Research Projects of Yunnan Province (2018FD034), and the Yunnan Provincial Department of Education Science Research Fund Project (1405189906).

Author Contributions

SWD conceived the experiments. SWD and LSJ designed the experimental flow. LSJ, MY, YLD, and YBC performed the experiments. LSJ performed statistical analyses. SWD wrote the manuscript. FZ, AMZ, and LL reviewed the manuscript. MHL and XSX supervised the project. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Animal and Human Rights Statement

All experiments and protocols in this study were reviewed and approved by the Institutional Ethical Committee of Kunming University of Science and Technology.

Supplementary material

12250_2019_106_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (236 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 236 kb)


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Copyright information

© Wuhan Institute of Virology, CAS 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Life Science and TechnologyKunming University of Science and TechnologyKunmingChina
  2. 2.The Key Laboratory of Tropical and Subtropical Animal Viral Diseases in Yunnan ProvinceKunmingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Virology, Wuhan Institute of VirologyChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina

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