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J Virol. 1996 Aug; 70(8): 5634–5637.
PMCID: PMC190524

Transmissible gastroenteritis coronavirus, but not the related porcine respiratory coronavirus, has a sialic acid (N-glycolylneuraminic acid) binding activity.


The hemagglutinating activity of transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), an enteric porcine coronavirus, was analyzed and found to be dependent on the presence of alpha-2,3-linked sialic acid on the erythrocyte surface. N-Glycolylneuraminic acid was recognized more efficiently by TGEV than was N-acetylneuraminic acid. For an efficient hemagglutination reaction the virions had to be treated with sialidase. This result suggests that the sialic acid binding site is blocked by virus-associated competitive inhibitors. Porcine respiratory coronavirus (PRCV), which is serologically related to TGEV but not enteropathogenic, was found to be unable to agglutinate erythrocytes. Incubation with sialidase did not induce a hemagglutinating activity of PRCV, indicating that the lack of this activity is an intrinsic property of the virus and not due to the presence of competitive inhibitors. Only monoclonal antibodies to an antigenic site that is absent from the S protein of PRCV were able to prevent TGEV from agglutinating erythrocytes. The epitope recognized by these antibodies is located within a stretch of 224 amino acids that is missing in the S protein of PRCV. Our results indicate that the sialic acid binding activity is also located in that portion of the S protein. The presence of a hemagglutinating activity in TGEV and its absence in PRCV open the possibility that the sialic acid binding activity contributes to the enterotropism of TGEV.

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Selected References

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