Glycocalyx restricts adenoviral vector access to apical receptors expressed on respiratory epithelium in vitro and in vivo: role for tethered mucins as barriers to lumenal infection

J Virol. 2004 Dec;78(24):13755-68. doi: 10.1128/JVI.78.24.13755-13768.2004.


Inefficient adenoviral vector (AdV)-mediated gene transfer to the ciliated respiratory epithelium has hindered gene transfer strategies for the treatment of cystic fibrosis lung disease. In part, the inefficiency is due to an absence of the coxsackie B and adenovirus type 2 and 5 receptor (CAR) from the apical membranes of polarized epithelia. In this study, using an in vitro model of human ciliated airway epithelium, we show that providing a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked AdV receptor (GPI-CAR) at the apical surface did not significantly improve AdV gene transfer efficiency because the lumenal surface glycocalyx limited the access of AdV to apical GPI-CAR. The highly glycosylated tethered mucins were considered to be significant glycocalyx components that restricted AdV access because proteolytic digestion and inhibitors of O-linked glycosylation enhanced AdV gene transfer. To determine whether these in vitro observations are relevant to the in vivo situation, we generated transgenic mice expressing GPI-CAR at the surface of the airway epithelium, crossbred these mice with mice that were genetically devoid of tethered mucin type 1 (Muc1), and tested the efficiency of gene transfer to murine airways expressing apical GPI-human CAR (GPI-hCAR) in the presence and absence of Muc1. We determined that AdV gene transfer to the murine airway epithelium was inefficient even in GPI-hCAR transgenic mice but that the gene transfer efficiency improved in the absence of Muc1. However, the inability to achieve a high gene transfer efficiency, even in mice with a deletion of Muc1, suggested that other glycocalyx components, possibly other tethered mucin types, also provide a significant barrier to AdV interacting with the airway lumenal surface.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / metabolism
  • Adenoviridae / pathogenicity*
  • Animals
  • Cell Polarity
  • Coxsackie and Adenovirus Receptor-Like Membrane Protein
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy
  • Epithelial Cells / virology*
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Glycocalyx
  • Glycosylphosphatidylinositols / genetics
  • Glycosylphosphatidylinositols / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mucin-1 / genetics
  • Mucin-1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Virus / genetics
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*
  • Respiratory System / virology*


  • CLMP protein, human
  • CLMP protein, mouse
  • Coxsackie and Adenovirus Receptor-Like Membrane Protein
  • Glycosylphosphatidylinositols
  • Mucin-1
  • Receptors, Virus