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Virology. 2009 Mar 15;385(2):434-43. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2008.11.037. Epub 2009 Jan 13.

Adeno-associated virus-2 and its primary cellular receptor--Cryo-EM structure of a heparin complex.

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Institute of Molecular Biophysics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4380, USA.


Adeno-associated virus serotype 2 (AAV-2) is a leading candidate vector for gene therapy. Cell entry starts with attachment to a primary receptor, Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycan (HSPG) before binding to a co-receptor. Here, cryo-electron microscopy provides direct visualization of the virus-HSPG interactions. Single particle analysis was performed on AAV-2 complexed with a 17 kDa heparin fragment at 8.3 A resolution. Heparin density covers the shoulder of spikes surrounding viral 3-fold symmetry axes. Previously implicated, positively charged residues R(448/585), R(451/588) and R(350/487) from another subunit cluster at the center of the heparin footprint. The footprint is much more extensive than apparent through mutagenesis, including R(347/484), K(395/532) and K(390/527) that are more conserved, but whose roles have been controversial. It also includes much of a region proposed as a co-receptor site, because prior studies had not revealed heparin interactions. Heparin density bridges over the viral 3-fold axes, indicating multi-valent attachment to symmetry-related binding sites.

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