Signalling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM, also known as CD150), a membrane glycoprotein involved in lymphocyte activation, has two extracellular immunoglobulin superfamily domains, V and C2. It has been shown previously that human SLAM is a cellular receptor for measles virus (MV) and that its V domain is necessary and sufficient for receptor function. Although mouse SLAM has functional and structural similarity to human SLAM, it hardly acts as a receptor for MV. By producing human/mouse chimeric molecules and assessing their receptor function with a vesicular stomatitis virus pseudotype assay, the region at amino acid positions 58-67 was found to be critically responsible for the difference in MV receptor function between human and mouse SLAMs. Exchange of this region allowed mouse SLAM to act as a receptor for MV, almost comparable to human SLAM. Among three amino acid differences (positions 60, 61 and 63) in this region, histidine 61 present in human SLAM was most significant, but combined substitutions with this residue and one or both of isoleucine 60 and valine 63 increased further the receptor activity of mouse SLAM. On the other hand, converse substitution at position 61 compromised receptor function of human SLAM. Thus, histidine 61 and its adjacent residues at positions 60 and 63 are critical for SLAM to act as a receptor for MV. Notably, the pseudotype assay indicated that residues at these three positions are also critical for the function of SLAM as a receptor for canine distemper virus.
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