Distribution of O-acetylated sialic acids among target host tissues for influenza virus

Brian R. Wasik, Karen N. Barnard, Robert J. Ossiboff, Zahra Khedri, Kurtis H. Feng, Hai Yu, Xi Chen, Daniel R. Perez, Ajit Varki, Colin R. Parrish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sialic acids (Sias) are important glycans displayed on the cells and tissues of many different animals and are frequent targets for binding and modification by pathogens, including influenza viruses. Influenza virus hemagglutinins bind Sias during the infection of their normal hosts, while the encoded neuraminidases and/or esterases remove or modify the Sia to allow virion release or to prevent rebinding. Sias naturally occur in a variety of modified forms, and modified Sias can alter influenza virus host tropisms through their altered interactions with the viral glycoproteins. However, the distribution of modified Sia forms and their effects on pathogen-host interactions are still poorly understood. Here we used probes developed from viral Sia-binding proteins to detect O-acetylated (4-O-acetyl, 9-O-acetyl, and 7,9-O-acetyl) Sias displayed on the tissues of some natural or experimental hosts for influenza viruses. These modified Sias showed highly variable displays between the hosts and tissues examined. The 9-O-acetyl (and 7,9-) modified Sia forms were found on cells and tissues of many hosts, including mice, humans, ferrets, guinea pigs, pigs, horses, dogs, as well as in those of ducks and embryonated chicken egg tissues and membranes, although in variable amounts. The 4-O-acetyl Sias were found in the respiratory tissues of fewer animals, being primarily displayed in the horse and guinea pig, but were not detected in humans or pigs. The results suggest that these Sia variants may influence virus tropisms by altering and selecting their cell interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00379-16
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Host range
  • Influenza
  • Receptor-ligand interaction
  • Respiratory viruses
  • Sialic acid
  • Virus-host interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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