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J Formos Med Assoc. 2009 Apr;108(4):270-9. doi: 10.1016/S0929-6646(09)60066-8.

Human coronaviruses 229E and NL63: close yet still so far.

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Laboratory of Experimental Virology, Department of Medical Microbiology, Center for Infection and Immunity Amsterdam (CINIMA), Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


HCoV-NL63 and HCoV-229E are two of the four human coronaviruses that circulate worldwide. These two viruses are unique in their relationship towards each other. Phylogenetically, the viruses are more closely related to each other than to any other human coronavirus, yet they only share 65% sequence identity. Moreover, the viruses use different receptors to enter their target cell. HCoV-NL63 is associated with croup in children, whereas all signs suggest that the virus probably causes the common cold in healthy adults. HCoV-229E is a proven common cold virus in healthy adults, so it is probable that both viruses induce comparable symptoms in adults, even though their mode of infection differs. Here, we present an overview of the current knowledge on both human coronaviruses, focusing on similarities and differences.

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