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Gillim-Ross, L., Taylor, J., Scholl, D. R., Ridenour, J., Masters, P. S., Wentworth, D. E.

Discovery of Novel Human and Animal Cells Infected by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus by Replication-specific Multiplex Reverse Transcription-PCR

J Clin Microbiol. 2004 Jul 01; 42(7): 3196-206.

PubMed Citation


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is the causative agent of the recent outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome. VeroE6 cells, fetal rhesus monkey kidney cells, and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells were the only cells known to be susceptible to SARS-CoV. We developed a multiplex reverse transcription-PCR assay to analyze the susceptibility of cells derived from a variety of tissues and species to SARS-CoV. Additionally, productive infection was determined by titration of cellular supernatants. Cells derived from three species of monkey were susceptible to SARS-CoV. However, the levels of SARS-CoV produced differed by 4 log(10). Mink lung epithelial cells (Mv1Lu) and R-Mix, a mixed monolayer of human lung-derived cells (A549) and mink lung-derived cells (Mv1Lu), are used by diagnostic laboratories to detect respiratory viruses (e.g., influenza virus); they were also infected with SARS-CoV, indicating that the practices of diagnostic laboratories should be examined to ensure appropriate biosafety precautions. Mv1Lu cells produce little SARS-CoV compared to that produced by VeroE6 cells, which indicates that they are a safer alternative for SARS-CoV diagnostics. Evaluation of cells permissive to other coronaviruses indicated that these cell types are not infected by SARS-CoV, providing additional evidence that SARS-CoV binds an alternative receptor. Analysis of human cells derived from lung, kidney, liver, and intestine led to the discovery that human cell lines were productively infected by SARS-CoV. This study identifies new cell lines that may be used for SARS-CoV diagnostics and/or basic research. Our data and other in vivo studies indicate that SARS-CoV has a wide host range, suggesting that the cellular receptor(s) utilized by SARS-CoV is highly conserved and is expressed by a variety of tissues.

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