The structural variability of the influenza A hemagglutinin receptor-binding site

Brief Funct Genomics. 2018 Nov 26;17(6):415-427. doi: 10.1093/bfgp/elx042.


Hemagglutinin (HA) is a transmembrane protein of the influenza A virus and a key component in its life cycle. The protein allows the virus to enter a host cell by recognizing specific glycans attached to transmembrane proteins of the host, which leads to viral endocytosis. In recent years, significant progress has been made in understanding the structural relationship between changes in the HA receptor-binding site (RBS) and the sialylated glycans that bind them. Several mutations were identified in the HA RBS that allows the virus to change host tropism. Their impact on binding the analogs of human and avian receptors was determined with X-ray crystallography. In this article, we provide a short overview of the HA protein structure and briefly discuss the adaptive mutations introduced to different HA subtypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus / chemistry*
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Virus / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*


  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus
  • Receptors, Virus
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid