1887

Abstract

Group 2 coronaviruses are characterized within the order by a unique genome organization. A characteristic feature of group 2 coronaviruses is the presence of a gene encoding the haemagglutinin–esterase (HE) protein, which is absent in coronaviruses of groups 1 and 3. At least three coronavirus strains within group 2 expressed a structural protein with sialate-4--acetylesterase activity, distinguishing them from other members of group 2, which encode an enzyme specific for 5--acetyl-9--acetylneuraminic acid. The esterases of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) strains S and JHM and puffinosis virus (PV) specifically hydrolysed 5--acetyl-4--acetylneuraminic acid (Neu4,5Ac) as well as the synthetic substrates -nitrophenyl acetate, 4-methylumbelliferyl acetate and fluorescein diacetate. The values of the MHV-like esterases for the latter substrates were two- to tenfold lower than those of the sialate-9--acetylesterases of influenza C viruses. Another unspecific esterase substrate, α-naphthyl acetate, was used for the detection of the dimeric HE proteins in SDS–polyacrylamide gels. MHV-S, MHV-JHM and PV bound to horse serum glycoproteins containing Neu4,5Ac. De--acetylation of the glycoproteins by alkaline treatment or incubation with the viral esterases resulted in a complete loss of recognition, indicating a specific interaction of MHV-like coronaviruses with Neu4,5Ac. Combined with evidence for distinct phylogenetic lineages of group 2 coronaviruses, subdivision into subgroups 2a (MHV-like viruses) and 2b (bovine coronavirus-like viruses) is suggested.

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2002-02-01
2019-10-15
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