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Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Mar 12;2(3):263-273. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2016.03.002. eCollection 2016 May.

Diversity in Rotavirus-Host Glycan Interactions: A "Sweet" Spectrum.

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Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.


Interaction with cellular glycans is a critical initial step in the pathogenesis of many infectious agents. Technological advances in glycobiology have expanded the repertoire of studies delineating host glycan-pathogen interactions. For rotavirus, the VP8* domain of the outer capsid spike protein VP4 is known to interact with cellular glycans. Sialic acid was considered the key cellular attachment factor for rotaviruses for decades. Although this is true for many rotavirus strains causing infections in animals, glycan array screens show that many human rotavirus strains bind nonsialylated glycoconjugates, called histo-blood group antigens, in a strain-specific manner. The expression of histo-blood group antigens is determined genetically and is regulated developmentally. Variations in glycan binding between different rotavirus strains are biologically relevant and provide new insights into multiple aspects of virus pathogenesis such as interspecies transmission, host range restriction, and tissue tropism. The genetics of glycan expression may affect susceptibility to different rotavirus strains and vaccine viruses, and impact the efficacy of rotavirus vaccination in different populations. A multidisciplinary approach to understanding rotavirus-host glycan interactions provides molecular insights into the interaction between microbial pathogens and glycans, and opens up new avenues to translate findings from the bench to the human population.


GlcNAc, N-acetylglucosamine; Glycans; HBGA, histo-blood group antigen; HIE, human intestinal enteroid; Histo-Blood Group Antigens; LNT, lacto-N-tetraose; LNnT, lacto-N-neotetraose; LacNAc, N-acetyllactosamine; Le, Lewis; NMR, nuclear magnetic resonance; Neu5Ac, N-acetylneuraminic acid; Neu5Gc, N-glycolylneuraminic acid; RBC, red blood cell; Rotavirus; Sia; Sia, sialic acid; VP, viral protein; VP8*

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