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Virology. 2019 Jul 19;535:261-265. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2019.07.016. [Epub ahead of print]

Spike proteins of novel MERS-coronavirus isolates from North- and West-African dromedary camels mediate robust viral entry into human target cells.

Author information

1
Infection Biology Unit, Deutsches Primatenzentrum - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Kellnerweg 4, 37077 Göttingen, Germany; Faculty of Biology and Psychology, University Göttingen, Wilhelm-Weber-Str. 2, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.
2
Infection Biology Unit, Deutsches Primatenzentrum - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Kellnerweg 4, 37077 Göttingen, Germany; Faculty of Biology and Psychology, University Göttingen, Wilhelm-Weber-Str. 2, 37073 Göttingen, Germany. Electronic address: spoehlmann@dpz.eu.
3
Infection Biology Unit, Deutsches Primatenzentrum - Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Kellnerweg 4, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.

Abstract

The highly pathogenic Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-related coronavirus (CoV) is transmitted from dromedary camels, the natural reservoir, to humans. For at present unclear reasons, MERS cases have so far only been observed in the Arabian Peninsula, although MERS-CoV also circulates in African dromedary camels. A recent study showed that MERS-CoV found in North/West- (Morocco) and West-African (Burkina Faso and Nigeria) dromedary camels are genetically distinct from Arabian viruses and have reduced replicative capacity in human cells, potentially due to amino acid changes in one or more viral proteins. Here, we show that the spike (S) proteins of the prototypic Arabian MERS-CoV strain, human betacoronavirus 2c EMC/2012, and the above stated African MERS-CoV variants do not appreciably differ in expression, DPP4 binding and ability to drive entry into target cells. Thus, virus-host-interactions at the entry stage may not limit spread of North- and West-African MERS-CoV in human cells.

KEYWORDS:

Dromedary camel; Entry; MERS-coronavirus; Spike; Zoonosis

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