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Immunogenicity of the spike glycoprotein of Bat SARS-like coronavirus


A group of SARS-like coronaviruses (SL-CoV) have been identified in horseshoe bats. Despite SL-CoVs and SARS-CoV share identical genome structure and high-level sequence similarity, SL-CoV does not bind to the same cellular receptor as for SARS-CoV and the N-terminus of the S proteins only share 64% amino acid identity, suggesting there are fundamental differences between these two groups of coronaviruses. To gain insight into the basis of this difference, we established a recombinant adenovirus system expressing the S protein from SL-CoV (rAd-Rp3-S) to investigate its immune characterization. Our results showed that immunized mice generated strong humoral immune responses against the SL-CoV S protein. Moreover, a strong cellular immune response demonstrated by elevated IFN-γ and IL-6 levels was also observed in these mice. However, the induced antibody from these mice had weaker cross-reaction with the SARS-CoV S protein, and did not neutralize HIV pseudotyped with SARS-CoV S protein. These results demonstrated that the immunogenicity of the SL-CoV S protein is distinct from that of SARS-CoV, which may cause the immunological differences between human SARS-CoV and bat SL-CoV. Furthermore, the recombinant virus could serve as a potential vaccine candidate against bat SL-CoV infection.


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Correspondence to Zheng-li Shi.

Additional information

Foundation items: This work was supported by the State Key Program for Basic Research Grant (2005CB523004) from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the Knowledge Innovation Program Key Project administered by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KSCX1-YW-R-07).

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Hou, Y., Peng, C., Han, Z. et al. Immunogenicity of the spike glycoprotein of Bat SARS-like coronavirus. Virol. Sin. 25, 36–44 (2010).

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Key words

  • SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV)
  • SARS-like coronavirus (SL-CoV)
  • Spike glycoprotein
  • Humoral immune response
  • Cellular immune response