Glycan receptors of the Polyomaviridae: structure, function, and pathogenesis

Curr Opin Virol. 2014 Aug;7:73-8. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2014.05.004. Epub 2014 Jun 29.


Multiple glycans have been identified as potential cell surface binding motifs for polyomaviruses (PyVs) using both crystallographic structural determinations and in vitro binding assays. However, binding alone does not necessarily imply that a glycan is a functional receptor, and confirmation that specific glycans are important for infection has proved challenging. In vivo analysis of murine polyomavirus (MPyV) infection has shown that subtle alterations in PyV-glycan interactions alone can result in dramatic changes in pathogenicity, implying that similar effects will be found for other PyVs. Our discussion will review the assays used for determining virus-glycan binding, and how these relate to known PyV tropism and pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Polyomaviridae / genetics
  • Polyomaviridae / metabolism*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / metabolism*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / virology
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism


  • Polysaccharides
  • Receptors, Virus
  • Viral Proteins