Norwalk virus-specific binding to oyster digestive tissues

Emerg Infect Dis. 2006 Jun;12(6):931-6. doi: 10.3201/eid1206.051519.


The primary pathogens related to shellfish-borne gastroenteritis outbreaks are noroviruses. These viruses show persistence in oysters, which suggests an active mechanism of virus concentration. We investigated whether Norwalk virus or viruslike particles bind specifically to oyster tissues after bioaccumulation or addition to tissue sections. Since noroviruses attach to carbohydrates of the histo-blood group family, tests using immunohistochemical analysis were performed to evaluate specific binding of virus or viruslike particles to oyster tissues through these ligands. Viral particles bind specifically to digestive ducts (midgut, main and secondary ducts, and tubules) by carbohydrate structures with a terminal N-acetylgalactosamine residue in an alpha linkage (same binding site used for recognition of human histo-blood group antigens). These data show that the oyster can selectively concentrate a human pathogen and that conventional depuration will not eliminate noroviruses from oyster tissue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System / immunology
  • Animals
  • Caliciviridae Infections / etiology
  • Caliciviridae Infections / metabolism
  • Caliciviridae Infections / virology*
  • Gastroenteritis / immunology
  • Gastroenteritis / pathology
  • Gastroenteritis / virology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens / immunology
  • Norwalk virus / immunology
  • Norwalk virus / metabolism*
  • Ostreidae / immunology
  • Ostreidae / metabolism
  • Ostreidae / virology*
  • Point Mutation


  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • Lewis Blood Group Antigens