Issue Date: June 27, 2011
Herpes-related octasaccharides inhibit infection
Herpes simplex virus, which causes skin and mucous-membrane lesions, infects cells by interacting with heparan sulfate found on cell surfaces. Researchers in Taiwan have now synthesized octasaccharides resembling those glycans, and the oligomers turn out to inhibit viral infection by competing with cell-surface virus-glycan interactions. The work was carried out by Shang-Cheng Hung and coworkers at Academia Sinica (Nat. Chem.,DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1073). It is known that attachment of herpesvirus to cell-surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans enables viral infection and cell entry. To better understand the detailed mechanism of the infection process, Hung and coworkers synthesized two heparan sulfate-related octasaccharides—a first for this type of compound, which is challenging to assemble synthetically. The finding that the two compounds inhibit herpes infection “is a step towards a better understanding of viral attachment and entry,” the researchers write. They now hope to further study virus-glycan interactions to aid the discovery of new antiherpes drugs.
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