Deciphering the Glycosylome of Dystroglycanopathies Using Haploid Screens for Lassa Virus Entry

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Science  26 Apr 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6131, pp. 479-483
DOI: 10.1126/science.1233675

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Viruses and Congenital Disorders

Mutations in genes involved in α-dystroglycan O-linked glycosylation result in posttranslation modifications associated with the congenital disease Walker-Warburg syndrome (WWS). This cellular modification is also required for efficient Lassa virus infection of cells. Jae et al. (p. 479, published online 21 March) screened for genes involved in O-glycosylation that affected Lassa virus infection and identified candidates involved in glycosylation. Individuals from different pedigrees exhibiting WWS had unique mutations among genes identified in the genetic screen. Thus, comprehensive forward genetic screens can be used to define the genetic architecture of a complex disease.


Glycosylated α-dystroglycan (α-DG) serves as cellular entry receptor for multiple pathogens, and defects in its glycosylation cause hereditary Walker-Warburg syndrome (WWS). At least eight proteins are critical to glycosylate α-DG, but many genes mutated in WWS remain unknown. To identify modifiers of α-DG, we performed a haploid screen for Lassa virus entry, a hemorrhagic fever virus causing thousands of deaths annually that hijacks glycosylated α-DG to enter cells. In complementary screens, we profiled cells for absence of α-DG carbohydrate chains or biochemically related glycans. This revealed virus host factors and a suite of glycosylation units, including all known Walker-Warburg genes and five additional factors critical for the modification of α-DG. Our findings accentuate the complexity of this posttranslational feature and point out genes defective in dystroglycanopathies.

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