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J Virol. 1994 Dec; 68(12): 8008–8016.
PMCID: PMC237264

Major receptor-binding and neutralization determinants are located within the same domain of the transmissible gastroenteritis virus (coronavirus) spike protein.


The spike glycoprotein (S) of coronavirus, the major target for virus-neutralizing antibodies, is assumed to mediate the attachment of virions to the host cell. A 26-kilodalton fragment proteolytically cleaved from transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) S protein was previously shown to bear two adjacent antigenic sites, A and B, both defined by high-titer neutralizing antibodies. Recombinant baculoviruses expressing C-terminal truncations of the 26-kilodalton region were used to localize functionally important determinants in the S protein primary structure. Two overlapping 223- and 150-amino-acid-long products with serine 506 as a common N terminus expressed all of the site A and B epitopes and induced virus-binding antibodies. Coexpression of one of these truncated protein S derivatives with aminopeptidase N (APN), a cell surface molecule acting as a receptor for TGEV, led to the formation of a complex which could be immunoprecipitated by anti-S antibodies. These data provide evidence that major neutralization-mediating and receptor-binding determinants reside together within a domain of the S protein which behaves like an independent module. In spite of their ability to prevent S-APN interaction, the neutralizing antibodies appeared to recognize a preformed complex, thus indicating that antibody- and receptor-binding determinants should be essentially distinct. Together these findings bring new insight into the molecular mechanism of TGEV neutralization.

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Selected References

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