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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009 Sep 18;387(2):326-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.07.025. Epub 2009 Jul 16.

Immunogenicity difference between the SARS coronavirus and the bat SARS-like coronavirus spike (S) proteins.

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Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China.


SARS-like coronavirus (SL-CoV) in bats have a similar genomic organization to the human SARS-CoV. Their cognate gene products are highly conserved with the exception of the N-terminal region of the S proteins, which have only 63-64% sequence identity. The N-terminal region of coronavirus S protein is responsible for virus-receptor interaction. In this study, the immunogenicity of the SL-CoV S protein (S(SL)) was studied and compared with that of SARS-CoV (S(SARS)). DNA immunization in mice with S(SL) elicited a high titer of antibodies against HIV-pseudotyped S(SL). The sera had low cross-reactivity, but no neutralization activity, for the HIV-pseudotyped S(SARS). Studies using wild bat sera revealed that it is highly likely that the immunodominant epitopes overlap with the major neutralizing sites of the SL-CoV S protein. These results demonstrated that SL-CoV and SARS-CoV shared only a limited number of immunogenic epitopes in their S proteins and the major neutralization epitopes are substantially different. This work provides useful information for future development of differential serologic diagnosis and vaccines for coronaviruses with different S protein sequences.

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