Megakaryocyte-erythrocyte progenitor (MEP) cells are potential in vivo targets of dengue virus (DENV); the virus has been found associated with megakaryocytes ex vivo and platelets during DENV-induced thrombocytopenia. We report here that DENV serotype 2 (DENV2) propagates well in human nondifferentiated MEP cell lines (Meg01 and K562). In comparison to virus propagated in Vero cells, viruses from MEP cell lines had similar structure and buoyant density. However, differences in MEP-DENV2 stability and composition were suggested by distinct protein patterns in western blot analysis. Also, antibody neutralization of envelope domain I/II on MEP-DENV2 was reduced relative to that on Vero-DENV2. Infectious DENV2 was produced at comparable kinetics and magnitude in MEP and Vero cells. However, fewer virion structures appeared in electron micrographs of MEP cells. We propose that DENV2 infects and produces virus efficiently in megakaryocytes and that megakaryocyte impairment might contribute to dengue disease pathogenesis.
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