Role of sialic acids in rotavirus infection

Glycoconj J. 2006 Feb;23(1-2):27-37. doi: 10.1007/s10719-006-5435-y.


Rotaviruses are the leading cause of childhood diarrhea. The entry of rotaviruses into the host cell is a complex process that includes several interactions of the outer layer proteins of the virus with different cell surface molecules. The fact that neuraminidase treatment of the cells, or preincubation of the virus with sialic acid-containing compounds decrease the infectivity of some rotavirus strains, suggested that these viruses interact with sialic acid on the cell surface. The infectivity of some other rotavirus strains is not affected by neuraminidase treatment of the cells, and therefore they are considered neuraminidase-resistant. However, the current evidence suggests that even these neuraminidase-resistant strains might interact with sialic acids located in context different from that of the sialic acids used by the neuraminidase-sensitive strains. This review summarizes our current knowledge of the rotavirus-sialic acid interaction, its structural basis, the specificity with which distinct rotavirus isolates interact with sialic acid-containing compounds, and also the potential use of these compounds as therapeutic agents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Glycoconjugates / chemistry
  • Glycoconjugates / metabolism
  • Glycolipids / chemistry
  • Glycolipids / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Rotavirus / drug effects
  • Rotavirus / pathogenicity*
  • Rotavirus / physiology*
  • Rotavirus Infections / virology*
  • Sialic Acids / chemistry
  • Sialic Acids / metabolism*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Glycoconjugates
  • Glycolipids
  • Sialic Acids