Influenza D virus utilizes both 9- O-acetylated N-acetylneuraminic and 9- O-acetylated N-glycolylneuraminic acids as functional entry receptors

Influenza D virus (IDV) utilizes bovines as a primary reservoir with periodical spillover to other hosts. We have previously demonstrated that IDV binds both 9-O-acetylated N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5,9Ac2) and 9-O-acetylated N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc9Ac). Bovines produce both Neu5,9Ac2 and Neu5Gc9Ac, while humans are genetically unable to synthesize Neu5Gc9Ac. 9-O-Acetylation of sialic acids is catalyzed by CASD1 via a covalent acetyl-enzyme intermediate. To characterize the role of Neu5,9Ac2 and Neu5Gc9Ac in IDV infection and determine which form of 9-O-acetylated sialic acids drives IDV entry, we took advantage of a CASD1 knockout (KO) MDCK cell line and carried out feeding experiments using synthetic 9-O-acetyl sialic acids in combination with the single-round and multi-round IDV infection assays. The data from our studies show that (i) CASD1 KO cells are resistant to IDV infection and lack of IDV binding to the cell surface is responsible for the failure of IDV replication; (ii) feeding CASD1 KO cells with Neu5,9Ac2 or Neu5Gc9Ac resulted in a dose-dependent rescue of IDV infectivity; and (iii) diverse IDVs replicated robustly in CASD1 KO cells fed with either Neu5,9Ac2 or Neu5Gc9Ac at a level similar to that in wild-type cells with a functional CASD1. These data demonstrate that IDV can utilize Neu5,9Ac2- or non-human Neu5Gc9Ac-containing glycan receptor for infection. Our findings provide evidence that IDV has acquired the ability to infect and transmit among agricultural animals that are enriched in Neu5Gc9Ac, in addition to posing a zoonotic risk to humans expressing only Neu5,9Ac2.IMPORTANCEInfluenza D virus (IDV) has emerged as a multiple-species-infecting pathogen with bovines as a primary reservoir. Little is known about the functional receptor that drives IDV entry and promotes its cross-species spillover potential among different hosts. Here, we demonstrated that IDV binds exclusively to 9-O-acetylated N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5,9Ac2) and non-human 9-O-acetylated N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc9Ac) and utilizes both for entry and infection. This ability in effective engagement of both 9-O-acetylated sialic acids as functional receptors for infection provides an evolutionary advantage to IDV for expanding its host range. This finding also indicates that IDV has the potential to emerge in humans because Neu5,9Ac2 is ubiquitously expressed in human tissues, including lung. Thus, results of our study highlight a need for continued surveillance of IDV in humans, as well as for further investigation of its biology and cross-species transmission mechanism.