JOURNAL ARTICLE

Molecular Basis of Binding between Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus and CD26 from Seven Bat Species

Yuan Yuan, Jianxun Qi, Ruchao Peng, Chunrui Li, Guangwen Lu, Jinghua Yan, Qihui Wang, George Fu Gao
Journal of Virology 2020 February 14, 94 (5)
31776269
Continued reports of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infecting humans have occurred since the identification of this virus in 2012. MERS-CoV is prone to cause endemic disease in the Middle East, with several dozen spillover infections to other continents. It is hypothesized that MERS-CoV originated from bat coronaviruses and that dromedary camels are its natural reservoir. Although gene segments identical to MERS-CoV were sequenced from certain species of bats and one species experimentally shed the virus, it is still unknown whether other bats can transmit the virus. Here, at the molecular level, we found that all purified bat CD26s (bCD26s) from a diverse range of species interact with the receptor binding domain (RBD) of MERS-CoV, with equilibrium dissociation constant values ranging from several to hundreds at the micromolar level. Moreover, all bCD26s expressed in this study mediated the entry of pseudotyped MERS-CoV to receptor-expressing cells, indicating the broad potential engagement of bCD26s as MERS-CoV receptors. Further structural analysis indicated that in the bat receptor, compared to the human receptor, substitutions of key residues and their adjacent amino acids leads to decreased binding affinity to the MERS-RBD. These results add more evidence to the existing belief that bats are the original source of MERS-CoV and suggest that bCD26s in many species can mediate the entry of the virus, which has significant implications for the surveillance and control of MERS-CoV infection. IMPORTANCE In this study, we found that bat CD26s (bCD26s) from different species exhibit large diversities, especially in the region responsible for binding to the receptor binding domain (RBD) of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). However, they maintain the interaction with MERS-RBD at varied affinities and support the entry of pseudotyped MERS-CoV. These bat receptors polymorphisms seem to confer evolutionary pressure for the adaptation of CD26-binding virus, such as the ancestor of MERS-CoV, and led to the generation of diversified CD26-engaging CoV strains. Thus, our data add more evidence to support that bats are the reservoir of MERS-CoV and similar viruses, as well as further emphasize the necessity to survey MERS-CoV and other CoVs among bats.

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