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PLoS One. 2009;4(4):e5058. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005058. Epub 2009 Apr 1.

Conservation of carbohydrate binding interfaces: evidence of human HBGA selection in norovirus evolution.

Author information

1
Division of Infectious Diseases, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Human noroviruses are the major viral pathogens of epidemic acute gastroenteritis. These genetically diverse viruses comprise two major genogroups (GI and GII) and approximately 30 genotypes. Noroviruses recognize human histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs) in a diverse, strain-specific manner. Recently the crystal structures of the HBGA-binding interfaces of the GI Norwalk virus and the GII VA387 have been determined, which allows us to examine the genetic and structural relationships of the HBGA-binding interfaces of noroviruses with variable HBGA-binding patterns. Our hypothesis is that, if HBGAs are the viral receptors necessary for norovirus infection and spread, their binding interfaces should be under a selection pressure in the evolution of noroviruses.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

Structural comparison of the HBGA-binding interfaces of the two noroviruses has revealed shared features but significant differences in the location, sequence composition, and HBGA-binding modes. On the other hand, the primary sequences of the HBGA-binding interfaces are highly conserved among strains within each genogroup. The roles of critical residues within the binding sites have been verified by site-directed mutagenesis followed by functional analysis of strains with variable HBGA-binding patterns.

CONCLUSIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE:

Our data indicate that the human HBGAs are an important factor in norovirus evolution. Each of the two major genogroups represents an evolutionary lineage characterized by distinct genetic traits. Functional convergence of strains with the same HBGA targets subsequently resulted in acquisition of analogous HBGA binding interfaces in the two genogroups that share an overall structural similarity, despite their distinct locations and amino acid compositions. On the other hand, divergent evolution may have contributed to the observed overall differences between and within the two lineages. Thus, both divergent and convergent evolution, as well as the polymorphic human HBGAs, likely contribute to the diversity of noroviruses. The finding of genogroup-specific conservation of HBGA binding interfaces will facilitate the development of rational strategies to control and prevent norovirus-associated gastroenteritis.

PMID:
19337380
PMCID:
PMC2660415
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0005058
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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