Interactions between the rabies virus and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors: A potential role in rabies virus induced behavior modifications

Heliyon. 2022 Aug 28;8(9):e10434. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e10434. eCollection 2022 Sep.


Rabies causes approximately 60,000 casualties annually and has a case fatality rate approaching 100% once clinical signs occur. The glycoprotein on the surface of the virion is important for the host immune response and facilitates interaction of the virion with host cell receptors. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors were the first receptors identified as a molecular target for the rabies virus. Additional targets, including neural cell adhesion molecule, p75 neurotrophin receptor, metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 2, and integrin β1, have been added to the list, all of which can mediate viral entry into the cell. Multiple receptors and different subtypes of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors result in a complex picture of virus-receptor interactions. In addition, some data suggest that the rabies virus glycoprotein inhibits cell signaling events mediated by various nicotinic receptor subtypes that have been implicated in altering behavior in unaffected animals. This review focuses on interactions between the rabies virus glycoprotein and nicotinic receptors and proposes possible functional consequences, including behavioral modifications and therapeutic approaches for future research.

Keywords: Behavior; Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; Rabies virus; Rabies virus glycoprotein; nAChR.

Publication types

  • Review