Glycosphingolipids are ubiquitous molecules composed of a lipid and a carbohydrate moiety. Their main functions are as antigen/toxin receptors, in cell adhesion/recognition processes, or initiation/modulation of signal transduction pathways. Microbes take advantage of the different carbohydrate structures displayed on a specific cell surface for attachment during infection. For some viruses, such as the polyomaviruses, binding to gangliosides determines the internalization pathway into cells. For others, the interaction between microbe and carbohydrate can be a critical determinant for host susceptibility. In this review, we summarize the role of glycosphingolipids as receptors for members of the non-enveloped calici-, rota-, polyoma- and parvovirus families.
Keywords: calicivirus; glycosphingolipid; non-enveloped virus; parvovirus; polyomavirus; receptor; rotavirus.