Ganglioside GT1b is a putative host cell receptor for the Merkel cell polyomavirus

J Virol. 2009 Oct;83(19):10275-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00949-09. Epub 2009 Jul 15.


The Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) was identified recently in human Merkel cell carcinomas, an aggressive neuroendocrine skin cancer. Here, we identify a putative host cell receptor for MCPyV. We found that recombinant MCPyV VP1 pentameric capsomeres both hemagglutinated sheep red blood cells and interacted with ganglioside GT1b in a sucrose gradient flotation assay. Structural differences between the analyzed gangliosides suggest that MCPyV VP1 likely interacts with sialic acids on both branches of the GT1b carbohydrate chain. Identification of a potential host cell receptor for MCPyV will aid in the elucidation of its entry mechanism and pathophysiology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / virology*
  • Cell Line
  • Erythrocytes / virology
  • Gangliosides / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Peptide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Polyomavirus / genetics*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / metabolism
  • Polyomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Sheep
  • Sialic Acids / chemistry
  • Sucrose / chemistry


  • Gangliosides
  • Sialic Acids
  • Sucrose
  • trisialoganglioside GT1
  • Peptide Hydrolases