Journal of Virology
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) emerged in 2012. Recently, the MERS-CoV receptor dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) was identified and the specific interaction of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of MERS-CoV spike protein and DPP4 was determined by crystallography. Animal studies identified rhesus macaques but not hamsters, ferrets, or mice to be susceptible for MERS-CoV. Here, we investigated the role of DPP4 in this observed species tropism. Cell lines of human and nonhuman primate origin were permissive of MERS-CoV, whereas hamster, ferret, or mouse cell lines were not, despite the presence of DPP4. Expression of human DPP4 in nonsusceptible BHK and ferret cells enabled MERS-CoV replication, whereas expression of hamster or ferret DPP4 did not. Modeling the binding energies of MERS-CoV spike protein RBD to DPP4 of human (susceptible) or hamster (nonsusceptible) identified five amino acid residues involved in the DPP4-RBD interaction. Expression of hamster DPP4 containing the five human DPP4 amino acids rendered BHK cells susceptible to MERS-CoV, whereas expression of human DPP4 containing the five hamster DPP4 amino acids did not. Using the same approach, the potential of MERS-CoV to utilize the DPP4s of common Middle Eastern livestock was investigated. Modeling of the DPP4 and MERS-CoV RBD interaction predicted the ability of MERS-CoV to bind the DPP4s of camel, goat, cow, and sheep. Expression of the DPP4s of these species on BHK cells supported MERS-CoV replication. This suggests, together with the abundant DPP4 presence in the respiratory tract, that these species might be able to function as a MERS-CoV intermediate reservoir.
van Doremalen, Neeltje; Miazgowicz, Kerri L.; Milne-Price, Shauna; Bushmaker, Trenton; Robertson, Shelly; Scott, Dana; Kinne, Joerg; and McLellan, Jason S., "Host Species Restriction of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus through Its Receptor, Dipeptidyl Peptidase 4" (2014). Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access Articles. 1303.