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Type: Journal article
Title: Ferrets exclusively synthesize Neu5Ac and express naturally humanized influenza A virus receptors
Author: Ng, P.
Böhm, R.
Hartley-Tassell, L.
Steen, J.
Wang, H.
Lukowski, S.
Hawthorne, P.
Trezise, A.
Coloe, P.
Grimmond, S.
Haselhorst, T.
Von Itzstein, M.
Paton, A.
Paton, J.
Jennings, M.
Citation: Nature Communications, 2014; 5(1):5750-1-5750-9
Publisher: nature
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 2041-1723
Statement of
Preston S.K. Ng, Raphael Bo, hm, Lauren E. Hartley-Tassell, Jason A. Steen, HuiWang, SamuelW. Lukowski, Paula L. Hawthorne, Ann E.O. Trezise, Peter J. Coloe, Sean M. Grimmond, Thomas Haselhorst, Mark von Itzstein, Adrienne W. Paton, James C. Paton, Michael P. Jennings
Abstract: Mammals express the sialic acids N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) and N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc) on cell surfaces, where they act as receptors for pathogens, including influenza A virus (IAV). Neu5Gc is synthesized from Neu5Ac by the enzyme cytidine monophosphate-N-acetylneuraminic acid hydroxylase (CMAH). In humans, this enzyme is inactive and only Neu5Ac is produced. Ferrets are susceptible to human-adapted IAV strains and have been the dominant animal model for IAV studies. Here we show that ferrets, like humans, do not synthesize Neu5Gc. Genomic analysis reveals an ancient, nine-exon deletion in the ferret CMAH gene that is shared by the Pinnipedia and Musteloidia members of the Carnivora. Interactions between two human strains of IAV with the sialyllactose receptor (sialic acid--α2,6Gal) confirm that the type of terminal sialic acid contributes significantly to IAV receptor specificity. Our results indicate that exclusive expression of Neu5Ac contributes to the susceptibility of ferrets to human-adapted IAV strains.
Keywords: Biological sciences; genetics; microbiolgy; virology
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit
RMID: 0030017738
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6750
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Appears in Collections:Molecular and Biomedical Science publications

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