Localisation and distribution of O-acetylated N-acetylneuraminic acids, the endogenous substrates of the hemagglutinin-esterases of murine coronaviruses, in mouse tissue

Glycoconj J. 2006 Feb;23(1-2):73-84. doi: 10.1007/s10719-006-5439-7.


Infections by mouse hepatitis viruses result in disease of the liver, the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and the central nervous system. Coronaviruses related to mouse hepatitis virus express a hemagglutinin-esterase surface glycoprotein, which specifically hydrolyses either 5-N-acetyl-4-O-acetyl neuraminic acid (Neu4,5Ac(2)) or 5-N-acetyl-9-O-acetyl neuraminic acid (Neu5,9Ac(2)). Moreover, these sialic acids represent potential cellular receptor determinants for murine coronaviruses. Until now, the distribution of these sialic acids in mouse brain was not thoroughly investigated. Particularly Neu4,5Ac(2) was not yet found in mouse brain. Using a sensitive method of gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry in the electron impact mode of ionization this manuscript demonstrates the occurrence of 13 different sialic acids varying in their alkyl and acyl substituents in mouse tissues including 5-N-acetyl-4-O-acetyl-9-O-lactyl-neuraminic acid (Neu4,5Ac(2)9Lt), 5-N-acetyl-9-O-lactyl-neuraminic acid (Neu5Ac9Lt), 5-N-acetyl-8-O-methyl-neuraminic acid (Neu5Ac8Me) and the 1,7-lactone (Neu5Ac1,7L) of neuraminic acid. Neu4,5Ac(2), relatively abundant in the gut, was present as a minor compound in all tissues, including liver, olfactory lobe, telencephalon, metencephalon and hippocampus. Neu5,9Ac(2) was also found in these tissues, except in the liver. It is suggested that these sialic acids represent the endogenous substrate and receptor determinants for murine coronaviruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Coronavirus / metabolism*
  • Coronavirus / pathogenicity
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Hemagglutinins, Viral / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / analysis*
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / chemistry
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / metabolism*


  • Hemagglutinins, Viral
  • Viral Fusion Proteins
  • hemagglutinin esterase
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid