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J Virol. 2004 Jun;78(12):6233-42.

The P domain of norovirus capsid protein forms dimer and binds to histo-blood group antigen receptors.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA.


Noroviruses (NVs) are the most important pathogen of epidemic nonbacterial gastroenteritis. The recent finding that NVs recognize human histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs) as receptors provided a new approach to study the pathogenesis of NVs. Using computational and site-directed mutagenesis approaches, our investigators previously identified a plausible binding pocket in the P domain of the NV capsids. In this study, we further characterize the role of the P domain in the interaction with human HBGA receptors using three NV strains representing three binding patterns. Our results show that the isolated P domain, although it did not form virus-like particles (VLPs), formed dimers, and the dimers bound HBGAs with the same patterns as those of the intact viral capsids. In contrast, the S domain, which formed small, thin-layer VLPs, did not bind A, B, or H HBGAs. A chimera containing the S domain of VA387 and the P domain of MOH revealed a binding pattern of the P donor strain (MOH). Deletion experiments revealed that an intact P domain is necessary for receptor binding. The P domain dimers are stable over a broad range of pH (2 to 11) or under strong denaturing conditions. Taken together, our results suggest that the P domain of NV contains essential elements for strain-specific binding to receptors. Further study of the P domain will provide useful information about the virus-receptor interaction. The high yield and easy production of the recombinant P protein in the Escherichia coli expression system will provide a simple approach to this goal.

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