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Hemagglutinin [phrase omitted] and Neuraminidase [phrase omitted].

In 1941, virologist George K. Hirst discovered that adding influenza virus to red blood cells (erythrocytes) in a test tube caused the cells to agglutinate, mediated by one of the virus surface glycoproteins, hemagglutinin (from the Greek haima, "blood," + Latin gluten, "glue"). Alfred Gottschalk later showed that hemagglutinin binds virus to host cells by attaching to sialic acids (from the Greek sialon, "saliva") on carbohydrate side chains of cell-surface glycoproteins and glycolipids. The other influenza virus surface protein, neuraminidase (referring to brain lipids from which it was first derived), is a virus receptor-destroying enzyme that removes its substrate, sialic acids, from infected cell surfaces so that newly made progeny viruses are released to infect additional cells. At present, 18 hemagglutinin subtypes (H1-H18) and 11 neuraminidase subtypes (N1-N11) are recognized.

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(1.) Gottschalk A. The chemistry and biology of sialic acids and related substances. London: Cambridge University Press; 1960.

(2.) Hirst GK. The agglutination of red cells by allantoic fluid of chick embryos infected with influenza virus. Science. 1941;94:22-3. science.94.2427.22

(3.) Hirst GK. Adsorption of influenza hemagglutinins and virus by red blood cells. J Exp Med. 1942;76:195-209. jem.76.2.195

Address for correspondence: Ronnie Henry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd NE, Mailstop E03, Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA; email:


Caption: Figure. Image of influenza virus showing hemagglutinin (blue) and neuraminidase (red) proteins on the surface of the virus. Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD).

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Title Annotation:etymologia
Author:Henry, Ronnie
Publication:Emerging Infectious Diseases
Article Type:Report
Date:Oct 1, 2018
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