The importance of -acetyl-9--acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5,9Ac) as a receptor determinant for bovine coronavirus (BCV) on cultured cells was analysed. Pretreatment of MDCK I (Madin Darby canine kidney) cells with neuraminidase or acetylesterase rendered the cells resistant to infection by BCV. The receptors on a human (CaCo-2) and a porcine (LLC-PK1) epithelial cell line were also found to be sensitive to neuraminidase treatment. The susceptibility to infection by BCV was restored after resialylation of asialo-MDCK I cells with Neu5,9Ac. Transfer of sialic acid lacking a 9--acetyl group was ineffective in this respect. These results demonstrate that 9--acetylated sialic acid is used as a receptor determinant by BCV to infect cultured cells. The possibility is discussed that the initiation of a BCV infection involves the recognition of different types of receptors, a first receptor for primary attachment and a second receptor to mediate the fusion between the viral envelope and the cellular membrane.


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