Chikungunya Virus Strains from Each Genetic Clade Bind Sulfated Glycosaminoglycans as Attachment Factors

Nicole McAllister, Yan Liu, Lisete M. Silva, Anthony J. Lentscher, Wengang Chai, Nian Wu, Kira A. Griswold, Krishnan Raghunathan, Lo Vang, Jeff Alexander, Kelly L. Warfield, Michael S. Diamond, Ten Feizi, Laurie A. Silva, Terence S. Dermody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an arthritogenic alphavirus that causes debilitating musculoskeletal disease. CHIKV displays broad cell, tissue, and species tropism, which may correlate with the attachment factors and entry receptors used by the virus. Cell surface glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) have been identified as CHIKV attachment factors. However, the specific types of GAGs and potentially other glycans to which CHIKV binds and whether there are strain-specific differences in GAG binding are not fully understood. To identify the types of glycans bound by CHIKV, we conducted glycan microarray analyses and discovered that CHIKV preferentially binds GAGs. Microarray results also indicate that sulfate groups on GAGs are essential for CHIKV binding and that CHIKV binds most strongly to longer GAG chains of heparin and heparan sulfate. To determine whether GAG binding capacity varies among CHIKV strains, a representative strain from each genetic clade was tested. While all strains directly bound to heparin and chondroitin sulfate in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) and depended on heparan sulfate for efficient cell binding and infection, we observed some variation by strain. Enzymatic removal of cell surface GAGs and genetic ablation that diminishes GAG expression reduced CHIKV binding and infectivity of all strains. Collectively, these data demonstrate that GAGs are the preferred glycan bound by CHIKV, enhance our understanding of the specific GAG moieties required for CHIKV binding, define strain differences in GAG engagement, and provide further evidence for a critical function of GAGs in CHIKV cell attachment and infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01500-20
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Nov 2021


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