Pathways of cross-species transmission of synthetically reconstructed zoonotic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus.

Journal of Virology
Timothy SheahanRalph Baric


Zoonotic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) likely evolved to infect humans by a series of transmission events between humans and animals in markets in China. Virus sequence data suggest that the palm civet served as an amplification host in which civet and human interaction fostered the evolution of the epidemic SARS Urbani strain. The prototypic civet strain of SARS-CoV, SZ16, was isolated from a palm civet but has not been successfully cultured in vitro. To propagate a chimeric recombinant SARS-CoV bearing an SZ16 spike (S) glycoprotein (icSZ16-S), we constructed cell lines expressing the civet ortholog (DBT-cACE2) of the SARS-CoV receptor (hACE2). Zoonotic SARS-CoV was completely dependent on ACE2 for entry. Urbani grew with similar kinetics in both the DBT-cACE2 and the DBT-hACE2 cells, while icSZ16-S only grew in DBT-cACE2 cells. The SZ16-S mutant viruses adapted to human airway epithelial cells and displayed enhanced affinity for hACE2 but exhibited severe growth defects in the DBT-cACE2 cells, suggesting that the evolutionary pathway that promoted efficient hACE2 interactions simultaneously abolished efficient cACE2 interactions. Structural modeling predicted two distinct biochemical interaction ne...Continue Reading


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