Ganglioside-linked terminal sialic acid moieties on murine macrophages function as attachment receptors for murine noroviruses

J Virol. 2009 May;83(9):4092-101. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02245-08. Epub 2009 Feb 25.


Noroviruses are the major cause of nonbacterial gastroenteritis in humans. However, little is known regarding the norovirus life cycle, including cell binding and entry. In contrast to human noroviruses, the recently discovered murine norovirus 1 (MNV-1) readily infects murine macrophages and dendritic cells in culture. Many viruses, including the related feline calicivirus, use terminal sialic acids (SA) as receptors for infection. Therefore, we tested whether SA moieties play a role during MNV-1 infection of murine macrophages. Competition with SA-binding lectins and neuraminidase treatment led to a reduction in MNV-1 binding and infection in cultured and primary murine macrophages, suggesting a role for SA during the initial steps of the MNV-1 life cycle. Because SA moieties can be attached to glycolipids (i.e., gangliosides), we next determined whether MNV-1 uses gangliosides during infection. The gangliosides GD1a, GM1, and asialo-GM1 (GA1) are natural components of murine macrophages. MNV-1 bound to ganglioside GD1a, which is characterized by an SA on the terminal galactose, but not to GM1 or asialo-GM1 in an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The depletion of gangliosides using an inhibitor of glycosylceramide synthase (d-threo-P4) led to a reduction of MNV-1 binding and infection in cultured and primary murine macrophages. This defect was specifically rescued by the addition of GD1a. A similar phenotype was observed for MNV field strains WU11 (GV/WU11/2005/USA) and S99 (GV/Berlin/2006/DE). In conclusion, our data indicate that MNV can use terminal SA on gangliosides as attachment receptors during binding to murine macrophages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Endotoxins / metabolism
  • Gangliosides / metabolism*
  • Lectins / metabolism
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / metabolism*
  • Neuraminidase / metabolism
  • Norovirus / classification
  • Norovirus / genetics
  • Norovirus / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Virus Internalization*


  • Antibodies
  • Endotoxins
  • Gangliosides
  • Lectins
  • Receptors, Virus
  • Neuraminidase
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid