An N-linked glycoprotein with alpha(2,3)-linked sialic acid is a receptor for BK virus

J Virol. 2005 Nov;79(22):14442-5. doi: 10.1128/JVI.79.22.14442-14445.2005.


BK virus (BKV) is a common human polyomavirus infecting >80% of the population worldwide. Infection with BKV is asymptomatic, but reactivation in renal transplant recipients can lead to polyomavirus-associated nephropathy. In this report, we show that enzymatic removal of alpha(2,3)-linked sialic acid from cells inhibited BKV infection. Reconstitution of asialo cells with alpha(2,3)-specific sialyltransferase restored susceptibility to infection. Inhibition of N-linked glycosylation with tunicamycin reduced infection, but inhibition of O-linked glycosylation did not. An O-linked-specific alpha(2,3)-sialyltransferase was unable to restore infection in asialo cells. Taken together, these data indicate that an N-linked glycoprotein containing alpha(2,3)-linked sialic acid is a critical component of the cellular receptor for BKV.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Glycoproteins / chemistry
  • Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / physiology*
  • Neuraminidase
  • Receptors, Virus / physiology*
  • Sialyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Tunicamycin / pharmacology
  • Vero Cells


  • Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Virus
  • Tunicamycin
  • Sialyltransferases
  • Neuraminidase
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid