Human Norovirus Efficiently Replicates in Differentiated 3D-Human Intestinal Enteroids

Carmen Mirabelli*, Nanci Santos-Ferreira, Merritt G. Gillilland, Roberto J. Cieza, Justin A. Colacino, Jonathan Z. Sexton, Johan Neyts, Stefan Taube, Joana Rocha-Pereira*, Christiane E. Wobus*

*Corresponding author for this work
7 Citations (Scopus)


Human norovirus (HNoV) accounts for one-fifth of all acute viral gastroenteritis worldwide and an economic burden of;$60 billion globally. The lack of treatment options against HNoV is in part due to the lack of cultivation systems. Recently, a model of infection in biopsy-derived human intestinal enteroids (HIE) has been described: 3D-HIE are first dispersed in 2D-monolayers and differentiated prior to infection, resulting in a labor-intensive, time-consuming procedure. Here, we present an alternative protocol for HNoV infection of 3D-HIE. We found that 3D-HIE differentiated as efficiently as 2D-mono-layers. In addition, immunofluorescence-based quantification of UEA-1, a lectin that stains the villus brush border, revealed that;80% of differentiated 3D-HIE spontaneously undergo polarity inversion, allowing for viral infection without the need for microinjection. Infection with HNoV GII.4-positive stool samples attained a fold-increase over inoculum of;2 Log10 at 2 days postinfection or up to 3.5 Log10 when ruxolitinib, a JAK1/2-inhibitor, was added. Treatment of GII.4-infected 3D-HIE with the polymerase inhibitor 29-C-Methylcytidine (2CMC) and other antivirals showed a reduction in viral infection, suggesting that 3D-HIE are an excellent platform to test anti-infectives. The transcriptional host response to HNoV was then investigated by RNA sequencing in infected versus uninfected 3D-HIE in the presence of ruxolitinib to focus on virus-associated signatures while limiting interferon-stimulated gene signatures. The analysis revealed upregulated hormone and neurotransmitter signal transduction pathways and downregulated glycolysis and hypoxia-response pathways upon HNoV infection. Overall, 3D-HIE have proven to be a highly robust model to study HNoV infection, screen antivirals, and to investigate the host response to HNoV infection. IMPORTANCE The human norovirus (HNoV) clinical and socio-economic impact calls for immediate action in the development of anti-infectives. Physiologically relevant in vitro models are hence needed to study HNoV biology, tropism, and mechanisms of viral-associated disease, and also as a platform to identify antiviral agents. Biopsy-derived human intestinal enteroids are a biomimetic of the intestinal epithelium and were recently described as a model that supports HNoV infection. However, the established protocol is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Therefore, we sought to develop a simplified and robust alternative model of infection in 3D enteroids that undergoes differentiation and spontaneous polarity inversion. Advantages of this model are the shorter experimental time, better infection yield, and spatial integrity of the intestinal epithelium. This model is potentially suitable for the study of other pathogens that infect intestinal cells from the apical surface but also for unraveling the interactions between intestinal epithelium and indigenous bacteria of the human microbiome.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 11.2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 204-04 Virology

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