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Receptor and viral determinants of SARS-coronavirus adaptation to human ACE2.

Li W., Zhang C., Sui J., Kuhn J.H., Moore M.J., Luo S., Wong S.-K., Huang I.-C., Xu K., Vasilieva N., Murakami A., He Y., Marasco W.A., Guan Y., Choe H., Farzan M.

Human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a functional receptor for SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Here we identify the SARS-CoV spike (S)-protein-binding site on ACE2. We also compare S proteins of SARS-CoV isolated during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak and during the much less severe 2003-2004 outbreak, and from palm civets, a possible source of SARS-CoV found in humans. All three S proteins bound to and utilized palm-civet ACE2 efficiently, but the latter two S proteins utilized human ACE2 markedly less efficiently than did the S protein obtained during the earlier human outbreak. The lower affinity of these S proteins could be complemented by altering specific residues within the S-protein-binding site of human ACE2 to those of civet ACE2, or by altering S-protein residues 479 and 487 to residues conserved during the 2002-2003 outbreak. Collectively, these data describe molecular interactions important to the adaptation of SARS-CoV to human cells, and provide insight into the severity of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.

EMBO J. 24:1634-1643(2005) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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