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J Virol. 1985 Dec;56(3):904-11.

Proteolytic cleavage of the E2 glycoprotein of murine coronavirus: activation of cell-fusing activity of virions by trypsin and separation of two different 90K cleavage fragments.


In the murine coronavirus mouse hepatitis virus, a single glycoprotein, E2, is required both for attachment to cells and for cell fusion. Cell fusion induced by infection with mouse hepatitis virus strain A59 was inhibited by the addition of monospecific anti-E2 antibody after virus adsorption and penetration. Adsorption of concentrated coronavirions to uninfected cells did not cause cell fusion in the presence of cycloheximide. Thus, cell fusion was induced by E2 on the plasma membrane of infected 17 Cl 1 cells but not by E2 on virions grown in these cells. Trypsin treatment of virions purified from 17 Cl 1 cells quantitatively cleaved 180K E2 to 90K E2 and activated cell-fusing activity of the virions. This proteolytic cleavage yielded two different 90K species which were separable by sodium dodecyl sulfate-hydroxyapatite chromatography. One of the trypsin cleavage products, 90A, was acylated and may be associated with the lipid bilayer. The other, 90B, was not acylated and yielded different peptides than did 90A upon limited digestion with thermolysin or staphylococcal V8 protease. Thus, the cell-fusing activity of a coronavirus required proteolytic cleavage of the E2 glycoprotein, either by the addition of a protease to virions or by cellular proteases acting on E2, which was transported to the plasma membrane during virus maturation. There is a striking functional similarity between the E2 glycoprotein of coronavirus, which is a positive-strand RNA virus, and the hemagglutinin glycoprotein of negative-strand orthomyxoviruses, in that a single glycoprotein has both attachment and protease-activated cell-fusing activities.

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