Influenza C virus uses 9-O-acetyl-N-acetylneuraminic acid as a high affinity receptor determinant for attachment to cells

J Biol Chem. 1986 May 5;261(13):5947-51.


Identification of the receptor-destroying enzyme of influenza C virus as a specific neuraminate O-acetylesterase has suggested that 9-O-acetyl-N-acetylneuraminic acid is an essential component of the cell surface receptor of influenza C virus (Herrler, G., Rott, R., Klenk, H.-D., Muller, H.-P., Shukla, A. K., and Schauer, R. (1985) EMBO (Eur. Mol. Biol. Organ.) J. 4, 1503-1506). In this report, three common sialic acids, N-acetylneuraminic acid (NeuAc), N-glycollylneuraminic acid (NeuGc), and 9-O-acetyl-N-acetylneuraminic acid (9-O-Ac-NeuAc) were compared for their ability to mediate attachment of influenza A, B, and C viruses to cells. Human asialoerythrocytes were resialylated to contain the three sialic acids in defined sequence on glycoprotein carbohydrate groups using purified sialyltransferases and corresponding CMP-sialic acid donor substrates. While influenza C virus failed to agglutinate native cells or resialylated cells containing NeuAc and NeuGc, resialylated cells containing 9-O-Ac-NeuAc in three different sialyloligosaccharide sequences were agglutinated in high titer. In contrast, most representative influenza A and B viruses examined preferentially agglutinated cells containing NeuAc and NeuGc and failed to agglutinate cells containing 9-O-Ac-NeuAc. Cells containing 9-O-Ac-NeuAc were sensitive to the action of influenza C virus neuraminate O-acetylesterase which converts 9-O-Ac-NeuAc to NeuAc. This treatment abolished agglutination by influenza C while making the cells agglutinable by several influenza A and B viruses. Finally, the ability of influenza C virus to agglutinate the erythrocytes of various species correlated with the presence of 9-O-Ac-NeuAc. The results provide direct evidence that influenza C virus utilizes 9-O-acetyl-N-acetylneuraminic acid as the primary receptor determinant for attachment to cell surface receptors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Gammainfluenzavirus / metabolism*
  • Gammainfluenzavirus / physiology
  • Hemagglutination
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / physiology
  • Influenza B virus / physiology
  • Orthomyxoviridae / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism*
  • Sialic Acids / metabolism*
  • Species Specificity


  • Receptors, Virus
  • Sialic Acids
  • 9-O-acetyl-N-acetylneuraminic acid