Noroviruses are the most common etiological agent of acute gastroenteritis worldwide. Despite their high infectivity, a subpopulation of individuals is resistant to infection and disease. This susceptibility is norovirus genotype-dependent and is largely mediated by the presence or absence of human histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs) on gut epithelial surfaces. The synthesis of these HBGAs is mediated by fucosyl- and glycosyltransferases under the genetic control of the FUT2
(Lewis) and ABO(H)
genes. The so-called non-secretors, having an inactivated FUT2 enzyme, do not express blood group antigens and are resistant to several norovirus genotypes, including the predominant GII.4. Significant genotypic and phenotypic diversity of HBGA expression exists between different human populations. Here, we review previous in vivo studies on genetic susceptibility to norovirus infection. These are discussed in relation to population susceptibility, vaccines, norovirus epidemiology and the impact on public health.
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