Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Glycosaminoglycans and infection
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are complex linear polysaccharides expressed in intracellular compartments, at the cell surface, and in the extracellular environment where they interact with various molecules to regulate many cellular processes implicated in health and disease. Subversion of GAGs is a pathogenic strategy shared by a wide variety of microbial pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Pathogens use GAGs at virtually every major portals of entry to promote their attachment and invasion of host cells, movement from one cell to another, and to protect themselves from immune attack. Pathogens co-opt fundamental activities of GAGs to accomplish these tasks. This ingenious strategy to subvert essential activities of GAGs likely prevented host organisms from deleting or inactivating these mechanisms during their evolution. The goal of this review is to provide a mechanistic overview of our current understanding of how microbes subvert GAGs at major steps of pathogenesis, using select GAG-pathogen interactions as representative examples.