Contemporary human H3N2 influenza A viruses require a low threshold of suitable glycan receptors for efficient infection

Cindy M. Spruit, Igor R. Sweet, Joshua C.L. Maliepaard, Theo Bestebroer, Pascal Lexmond, Boning Qiu, Mirjam J.A. Damen, Ron A.M. Fouchier, Karli R. Reiding, Joost Snijder, Sander Herfst, Geert Jan Boons, Robert P. de Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Recent human H3N2 influenza A viruses have evolved to employ elongated glycans terminating in α2,6-linked sialic acid as their receptors. These glycans are displayed in low abundancies by (humanized) Madin-Darby Canine Kidney cells, which are commonly employed to propagate influenza A virus, resulting in low or no viral propagation. Here, we examined whether the overexpression of the glycosyltransferases β-1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase and β-1,4-galactosyltransferase 1, which are responsible for the elongation of poly-N-acetyllactosamines (LacNAcs), would result in improved A/H3N2 propagation. Stable overexpression of β-1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase and β-1,4-galactosyltransferase 1 in Madin-Darby Canine Kidney and "humanized" Madin-Darby Canine Kidney cells was achieved by lentiviral integration and subsequent antibiotic selection and confirmed by qPCR and protein mass spectrometry experiments. Flow cytometry and glycan mass spectrometry experiments using the β-1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase and/or β-1,4-galactosyltransferase 1 knock-in cells demonstrated increased binding of viral hemagglutinins and the presence of a larger number of LacNAc repeating units, especially on "humanized" Madin-Darby Canine Kidney-β-1,3-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase cells. An increase in the number of glycan receptors did, however, not result in a greater infection efficiency of recent human H3N2 viruses. Based on these results, we propose that H3N2 influenza A viruses require a low number of suitable glycan receptors to infect cells and that an increase in the glycan receptor display above this threshold does not result in improved infection efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-800
Number of pages17
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023

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© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.


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