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J Virol. 1992 Oct;66(10):6194-9.

Mouse hepatitis virus utilizes two carcinoembryonic antigens as alternative receptors.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Southern California, School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033-1054.


The cellular receptor for the murine coronavirus mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) has been identified as a member of the murine carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) family (R. K. Williams, G. S. Jiang, and K. V. Holmes, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 88:5533-5536, 1991). However, the receptor protein was not detected in some of the susceptible mouse tissues. We therefore examined whether other types of MHV receptor might exist. By polymerase chain reaction with the conserved sequences of murine CEA gene family members (mmCGM) as primers, we detected two CEA-encoding RNAs in the mouse liver. One of them (1.3 kb) encodes mmCGM1, which has previously been identified as the receptor for MHV, and the other one (0.8 kb) was shown to encode another member of mouse CGM, mmCGM2. The sequence analysis showed that mmCGM2 lacks 564 nucleotides in the middle of the gene compared with mmCGM1. These two CEA transcripts are probably derived from the same gene by an alternative splicing mechanism. Expression of either of these cDNA clones in COS-7 cells rendered these cells susceptible to MHV infection, suggesting that not only mmCGM1 but also mmCGM2 serves as a receptor for MHV. The mmCGM2 was the major CEA species in the mouse brain, which is a main target organ for the neurotropic strains of MHV. Very little mmCGM1 was detected in the mouse brain or in cells of the susceptible mouse astrocytoma cell line DBT. This result indicates that MHV may utilize different CEA molecules as the major receptor in the mouse brain and in the liver. This is a first identification of multiple receptors for a single virus. The presence of different receptors in different tissues may explain the target cell specificity of certain MHVs.

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