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Proteolytic processing of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus spikes expands virus tropism

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  • Proteolytic processing of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus spikes expands virus tropism

    Source: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/20...47113.abstract


    Proteolytic processing of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus spikes expands virus tropism

    Jung-Eun Parka, Kun Lib, Arlene Barlana, Anthony R. Fehrc, Stanley Perlmanb,c, Paul B. McCray, Jr.b,c, and Tom Gallaghera,1


    Abstract

    Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infects humans from zoonotic sources and causes severe pulmonary disease. Virions require spike (S) glycoproteins for binding to cell receptors and for catalyzing virus–cell membrane fusion. Fusion occurs only after S proteins are cleaved sequentially, first during their secretion through the exocytic organelles of virus-producing cells, and second after virus binding to target-cell receptors. To more precisely determine how sequential proteolysis contributes to CoV infection, we introduced S mutations obstructing the first cleavages. These mutations severely compromised MERS-CoV infection into human lung-derived cells, but had little effect on infection into several other cell types. These cell type-specific requirements for proteolysis correlated with S conformations during cell entry. Without the first cleavages, S proteins resisted cell receptor-induced conformational changes, which restricted the second, fusion-activating cleavages. Consistent with these findings, precleaved MERS viruses used receptor-proximal, cell-surface proteases to effect the second fusion-activating cleavages during cell entry, whereas the more rigid uncleaved MERS viruses trafficked past these cell-surface proteases and into endosomes. Uncleaved viruses were less infectious to human airway epithelial and Calu3 cell cultures because they lacked sufficient endosomal fusion-activating proteases. Thus, by sensitizing viruses to receptor-induced conformational changes, the first S cleavages expand virus tropism to cell types that are relevant to lung infection, and therefore may be significant determinants of MERS-CoV virulence...

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