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Host-Specific Glycans Are Correlated with Susceptibility to Infection by Lagoviruses, but Not with Their Virulence.

ABSTRACT: Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) and European brown hare syndrome virus (EBHSV) are two lagoviruses from the family Caliciviridae that cause fatal diseases in two leporid genera, Oryctolagus and Lepus, respectively. In the last few years, several examples of host jumps of lagoviruses among leporids were recorded. In addition, a new pathogenic genotype of RHDV emerged, and many nonpathogenic strains of lagoviruses have been described. The molecular mechanisms behind host shifts and the emergence of virulence are unknown. Since RHDV uses glycans of the histo-blood group antigen type as attachment factors to initiate infection, we studied if glycan specificities of the new pathogenic RHDV genotype, nonpathogenic lagoviruses, and EBHSV potentially play a role in determining the host range and virulence of lagoviruses. We observed binding to A, B, or H antigens of the histo-blood group family for all strains known to primarily infect European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), which have recently been classified as GI strains. However, we could not explain the emergence of virulence, since similar glycan specificities were found in several pathogenic and nonpathogenic strains. In contrast, EBHSV, recently classified as GII.1, bound to terminal ?-linked N-acetylglucosamine residues of O-glycans. Expression of these attachment factors in the upper respiratory and digestive tracts in three lagomorph species (Oryctolagus cuniculus, Lepus europaeus, and Sylvilagus floridanus) showed species-specific patterns regarding susceptibility to infection by these viruses, indicating that species-specific glycan expression is likely a major contributor to lagovirus host specificity and range.IMPORTANCE Lagoviruses constitute a genus of the family Caliciviridae comprising highly pathogenic viruses, RHDV and EBHSV, that infect rabbits and hares, respectively. Recently, nonpathogenic strains were discovered and new pathogenic strains have emerged. In addition, host jumps between lagomorphs have been observed. The mechanisms responsible for the emergence of pathogenicity and host species range are unknown. Previous studies showed that RHDV strains attach to glycans expressed in the upper respiratory and digestive tracts of rabbits, the likely portals of virus entry. Here, we studied the glycan-binding properties of novel pathogenic and nonpathogenic strains looking for a link between glycan binding and virulence or between glycan specificity and host range. We found that glycan binding did not correlate with virulence. However, expression of glycan motifs in the upper respiratory and digestive tracts of lagomorphs revealed species-specific patterns associated with the host ranges of the virus strains, suggesting that glycan diversity contributes to lagovirus host ranges.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC5790946 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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