The role of gangliosides in rabies virus infection of chick embryo-related (CER) cells was investigated. Cultured cells were pretreated with neuraminidase to render the cells transiently non-susceptible to viral infection. Incubation of these desialylated cells with gangliosides allowed them to incorporate exogenous gangliosides and they recovered their susceptibility to rabies virus infection. Infection of CER cells was monitored by specific fluorescence 24 h after virus inoculation. The use of individual purified gangliosides or mixtures of two gangliosides to restore cellular susceptibility to viral infection showed that GT1b and GQ1b were the most effective. The disialogangliosides were also active, principally GD1b, whereas GM1, GM3 were poorly active and GD3 inactive. Incubation of rabies virus with gangliosides prior to virus infection reduced the percentage of infected cells. The results indicate that highly sialylated gangliosides are part of the cellular membrane receptor structure for the attachment of infective rabies virus. However, it is possible that other glycoconjugates such as glycoproteins or glycolipids also participate as components of a receptor structure for rabies virus.

Keyword(s): gangliosides , rabies virus and receptor

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