Oligosaccharides and Viral Infections: Milk Oligosaccharides versus algal Fucan-Polysaccharides
Norovirus infections belong to the most common causes of human gastroenteritis worldwide and epidemic outbreaks are responsible for hundreds of thousands deaths annually. Strikingly, no antiviral treatment is available, due to the difficulty in cultivating virions or in generating a vaccine, and to the fact that their infection mechanisms are poorly understood. However, there is consent that noroviruses bind to histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs) on their way through the digestive tract.
The HBGA profiles vary individually, making people more or less susceptible to different norovirus strains. In our current work we try to decipher the HBGA specificity of the most prevalent and clinically relevant norovirus GII.4 subfamily (Sydney 2012, JX459908) and its preferences for human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), as potential anti-infectiva. The structural evidence provided can explain at the molecular level why individuals with certain blood groups are at higher risk of infection and how these infections may be prevented and treated by application of food additives.