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Red blood cells serve as a vehicle for Coronavirus PEDV transmission
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  • Jianda Li,
  • Chen Yuan,
  • Peng Liu,
  • Yuchen Li,
  • En Zhang,
  • Penghao Zhang,
  • Qian Yang
Jianda Li
Nanjing Agricultural University College of Veterinary Medicine
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Chen Yuan
Nanjing Agricultural University College of Veterinary Medicine
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Peng Liu
Nanjing Agricultural University College of Veterinary Medicine
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Yuchen Li
Nanjing Agricultural University College of Veterinary Medicine
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En Zhang
Nanjing Agricultural University College of Veterinary Medicine
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Penghao Zhang
Nanjing Agricultural University College of Veterinary Medicine
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Qian Yang
Nanjing Agricultural University College of Veterinary Medicine
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Abstract

Red blood cells (RBCs) are the most abundant cell type in the bloodstream, serving for oxygen transport. Although RBCs have been considered as possible vehicles of virus transmission to target cells, the mechanism is much less well understood. Here, we showed that porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), a coronavirus that caused acute and devastating intestinal disease in suckling piglets, could cause typical diarrhea in newborn piglets through hijacking RBCs. Firstly, PEDV could bind and internalize into neonatal RBCs through CD71 and clathrin-mediated endocytosis, and maintain its viability for 12 h. Subsequently, after autotransfusion with PEDV-loaded RBCs, PEDV could infect and colonize intestinal epithelial cells, causing typical diarrhea symptoms in newborn piglets. Moreover, PEDV-loaded RBCs could transfer the virus to CD3+ T cells by formation conjugation structure. PEDV could continue to hitchhike CD3+ T cells to reach intestine mucosa and cause infection. Finally, PEDV-loaded RBCs were found in nasal capillary after intranasal infection with PEDV. Further, higher oxygen concentration was determined as a promoter of PEDV binding RBCs. Therefore, nasal capillary was speculated to be the entry for PEDV binding RBCs. Collectively, our studies illustrated the mechanism that PEDV could cause intestine infection through hijacking RBCs, further providing a novel insight into the role of RBCs in coronavirus pathogenesis as potential cells for viral transmission.