Virologica Sinica

, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 383–393 | Cite as

The importance of heparan sulfate in herpesvirus infection

  • Christopher D. O’Donnell
  • Deepak Shukla


Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) is one of many pathogens that use the cell surface glycosaminoglycan heparan sulfate as a receptor. Heparan sulfate is highly expressed on the surface and extracellular matrix of virtually all cell types making it an ideal receptor. Heparan sulfate interacts with HSV-1 envelope glycoproteins gB and gC during the initial attachment step during HSV-1 entry. In addition, a modified form of heparan sulfate, known as 3-O-sulfated heparan sulfate, interacts with HSV-1 gD to induce fusion between the viral envelope and host cell membrane. The 3-O-sulfation of heparan sulfate is a rare modification which occurs during the biosynthesis of heparan sulfate that is carried out by a family of enzymes known as 3-O-sulfotransferases. Due to its involvement in multiple steps of the infection process, heparan sulfate has been a prime target for the development of agents to inhibit HSV entry. Understanding how heparan sulfate functions during HSV-1 infection may not only be critical for inhibiting infection by this virus, but it may also be crucial in the fight against many other pathogens as well.

Key words

Heparan sulfate (HS) Herpesviruses Herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) 3-O-sulfotransferases Viral entry 

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Copyright information

© Wuhan Institute of Virology, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of MedicineUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, College of MedicineUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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