Author(s): Bhella D, Bhella D
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Abstract As obligate intracellular parasites, viruses must traverse the host-cell plasma membrane to initiate infection. This presents a formidable barrier, which they have evolved diverse strategies to overcome. Common to all entry pathways, however, is a mechanism of specific attachment to cell-surface macromolecules or 'receptors'. Receptor usage frequently defines viral tropism, and consequently, the evolutionary changes in receptor specificity can lead to emergence of new strains exhibiting altered pathogenicity or host range. Several classes of molecules are exploited as receptors by diverse groups of viruses, including, for example, sialic acid moieties and integrins. In particular, many cell-adhesion molecules that belong to the immunoglobulin-like superfamily of proteins (IgSF CAMs) have been identified as viral receptors. Structural analysis of the interactions between viruses and IgSF CAM receptors has not shown binding to specific features, implying that the Ig-like fold may not be key. Both proteinaceous and enveloped viruses exploit these proteins, however, suggesting convergent evolution of this trait. Their use is surprising given the usually occluded position of CAMs on the cell surface, such as at tight junctions. Nonetheless, the reason for their widespread involvement in virus entry most probably originates in their functional rather than structural characteristics.
This article was published in Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
and referenced in Journal of Orthopedic Oncology