Encephalomyocarditis and influenza viruses attach to human erythrocytes causing haemagglutination. The receptor for both viruses on these cells is the major membrane sialoglycoprotein, glycophorin, solubilized preparations of which inhibit haemagglutination by either virus. We show here that glycophorin preparations inhibited haemagglutination of both viruses, even after the preparations were digested with chymotrypsin. To determine which component(s) in the digest exhibited activity, peptides separated by gel filtration were assayed for haemagglutination inhibition; one peptide only, CH-0, was active. A tentative structure was deduced for CH-0 from amino acid and sialic acid analyses. It was already known that neuraminidase treatment of erythrocytes or glycophorin prevents interaction with either virus, suggesting that sialic acid may form part of the active binding site in the receptor. However, receptor activity requires more than the presence of a particular arrangement of sialic acid since the arrangement in CH-0 was identical to that in two other inactive chymotryptic peptides. Examination by gel filtration, sucrose density gradient centrifugation and SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis demonstrated that CH-0 readily aggregated, unlike the inactive peptides. It was proposed that the CH-0 chymotryptic peptide showed receptor-like activity (inhibited haemagglutination) because its tendency to aggregate allowed strong multivalent binding with virus particles.


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