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Intervirology. 1983;20(4):181-9.



The family Coronaviridae comprises a monogeneric group of 11 viruses which infect vertebrates. The main characteristics of the member viruses are: (i) Morphological: Enveloped pleomorphic particles typically 100 nm in diameter (range 60-220 nm), bearing about 20 nm long club-shaped surface projections. (ii) Structural: A single-stranded infectious molecule of genomic RNA of about (5-7) X 10(6) molecular weight. A phosphorylated nucleocapsid protein [mol. wt. (50-60) X 10(3)] complexed with the genome as a helical ribonucleoprotein; a surface (peplomer) protein, associated with one or two glycosylated polypeptides [mol. wt. (90-180) X 10(3)]; a transmembrane (matrix) protein, associated with one polypeptide which may be glycosylated to different degrees [mol. wt. (20-35) X 10(3)]. (iii) Replicative: Production in infected cells of multiple 3' coterminal subgenomic mRNAs extending for different lengths in the 5' direction. Virions bud intracytoplasmically. (iv) Antigenic: 3 major antigens, each corresponding to one class of virion protein. (v) Biological: Predominantly restricted to infection of natural vertebrate hosts by horizontal transmission via the fecal/oral route. Responsible main for respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders.

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