Feline Aminopeptidase N is a Receptor for All Group I Coronaviruses

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Abstract

Human coronavirus HCV-229E and porcine transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), both members of coronavirus group I, use aminopeptidase N (APN) as their cellular receptors. These viruses show marked species specificity in receptor utilization as they can only use APN of their respective species to initiate virus infection. Feline and canine coronaviruses are also group I coronaviruses. To determine whether feline APN could serve as a receptor for feline coronaviruses (FCoVs), we cloned the cDNA encoding feline APN (fAPN) by PCR from feline cells and stably expressed it in FCoV-resistant mouse or hamster cells. These became susceptible to infection with either of several biotypes of FCoVs. The expression of recombinant fAPN also made hamster and mouse cells susceptible to infection with other group I coronaviruses, including several canine coronavirus strains, transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), and human coronavirus HCV-229E. Thus, fAPN served as a functional receptor for each of these coronaviruses in group I. As expected, fAPN could not serve as a receptor for mouse hepatitis virus (MHV), a group II coronavirus which uses murine biliary glycoproteins as receptors. Thus, fAPN acts as a common receptor for coronaviruses in group I, in marked contrast to human and porcine APN glycoproteins which serve as receptors only for human and porcine coronaviruses, respectively. These observations suggest that cats could serve as a “mixing vessel” in which simultaneous infection with several group I coronaviruses could lead to recombination of viral genomes.