Send to

Choose Destination
J Biol Chem. 2005 Aug 19;280(33):29588-95. Epub 2005 Jun 24.

Identification of two critical amino acid residues of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus spike protein for its variation in zoonotic tropism transition via a double substitution strategy.

Author information

Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is a recently identified human coronavirus. The extremely high homology of the viral genomic sequences between the viruses isolated from human (huSARS-CoV) and those of palm civet origin (pcSARS-CoV) suggested possible palm civet-to-human transmission. Genetic analysis revealed that the spike (S) protein of pcSARS-CoV and huSARS-CoV was subjected to the strongest positive selection pressure during transmission, and there were six amino acid residues within the receptor-binding domain of the S protein being potentially important for SARS progression and tropism. Using the single-round infection assay, we found that a two-amino acid substitution (N479K/T487S) of a huSARS-CoV for those of pcSARS-CoV almost abolished its infection of human cells expressing the SARS-CoV receptor ACE2 but no effect upon the infection of mouse ACE2 cells. Although single substitution of these two residues had no effects on the infectivity of huSARS-CoV, these recombinant S proteins bound to human ACE2 with different levels of reduced affinity, and the two-amino acid-substituted S protein showed extremely low affinity. On the contrary, substitution of these two amino acid residues of pcSARS-CoV for those of huSRAS-CoV made pcSARS-CoV capable of infecting human ACE2-expressing cells. These results suggest that amino acid residues at position 479 and 487 of the S protein are important determinants for SARS-CoV tropism and animal-to-human transmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center