Measles is a highly contagious disease that causes immunosuppression in patients. Measles virus infection has been thought to begin in the respiratory epithelium and then spread to lymphoid tissue. In this issue of the JCI, Leonard et al. provide data to suggest an alternative model of measles virus pathogenesis (see the related article beginning on page 2448). In human primary epithelial cells and rhesus monkeys in vivo, the authors show that initial infection of respiratory epithelium is not necessary for the virus to enter the host but that viral entry into epithelial cells via interaction of the virus with a receptor located on the basolateral side of the epithelium is required for viral shedding into the airway and subsequent transmission.
Schema of the MV particle and its receptor-binding H protein.