Goose erythrocyte membranes were isolated and tested for their ability to compete with red cell receptors for vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) attachment and fusion at acidic pH. Crude membranes, solubilized with Triton X-100, Tween 80 and octyl-β--glucopyranoside, showed a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on virus binding and haemolysis. The chemical nature of the active molecules was investigated by enzyme digestion and by separation of purified components. Only the lipid moiety, specifically phospholipid and glycolipid, was found to inhibit VSV attachment; a more detailed analysis of these molecules showed that phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylserine and GM3 ganglioside were responsible for the inhibitory activity and could therefore represent VSV binding sites on goose erythrocyte membranes. Removal of negatively charged groups from these molecules by enzymic treatment significantly reduced their activity, suggesting that electrostatic interactions play an important role in the binding of VSV to the cell surface. Enzymic digestion of whole erythrocytes confirmed the involvement of membrane lipid molecules in the cell surface receptor for VSV.


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