Send to

Choose Destination
Trends Microbiol. 2008 Apr;16(4):149-57. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2008.01.008. Epub 2008 Mar 28.

Evolving complexities of influenza virus and its receptors.

Author information

Department of Pathology, The University of Hong Kong, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong SAR.


Sialic acids (Sias) are regarded as receptors for influenza viruses and are usually bound to galactose (Gal) in an alpha2-3 or alpha2-6 configuration. The detection of these Sia configurations in tissues has commonly been through the use of plant lectins that are able to identify which cells contain Siaalpha2-3- and Siaalpha2-6-linked glycans, although other techniques for receptor distribution have been used. Initial experiments indicated that avian versus human influenza virus binding was determined by either Siaalpha2-6 or Siaalpha2-3 expression. In this review, we suggest that the distribution and detection of these terminal Siaalpha2-3- and Siaalpha2-6-linked receptors within the respiratory tract might not be as clear cut as has been reported. We will also review how other viral and receptor components might act as determinants for successful viral replication and transmission. Understanding these additional components is important in comprehending the infection and the transmission of both existing human influenza viruses and newly emerging avian influenza viruses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center