Characteristics of the Recognition of Host Cell Carbohydrates by Viruses and Bacteria
Microbial interactions with host tissues is at present a field in a fascinating development both basically and concerning potential applications. Our knowledge of virus receptors is more advanced than that of bacterial systems, in part based on the crystal conformation of the influenza virus hemagglutinin in complex with the receptor, sialic acid (1), and the crystal structures of picornaviruses (see 2). The “Canyon hypothesis” (2) suggests that one strategy for viruses to escape immune surveillance is to protect the receptor attachment site in a surface depression which is too narrow to be reached by antibodies. This site is conserved on the otherwise hypervariable surface of the viruses. Development of protective vaccines may therefore get very difficult or impossible, and efforts are growing to prepare soluble receptor analogues that may inhibit viral attachment, based on carbohydrate (1,3,4) or protein (2,5,6) receptors, and there appears to be good opportunities for rational drug design.
KeywordsSialic Acid Rota Virus Cholera Toxin Shiga Toxin Bordetella Pertussis
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