The Journal of general virology

Differences in neutralizing antigenicity between laboratory and clinical isolates of HCoV-229E isolated in Japan in 2004-2008 depend on the S1 region sequence of the spike protein.

PMID 22673931


Human coronavirus (HCoV) is a causative agent of the common cold. Although HCoV is highly prevalent in the world, studies of the genomic and antigenic details of circulating HCoV strains have been limited. In this study, we compared four Japanese isolates with the standard HCoV-229E strain obtained from ATCC (ATCC-VR740) by focusing on the spike (S) protein, a major determinant of neutralizing antigen and pathogenicity. The isolates were found to have nucleotide deletions and a number of sequence differences in the S1 region of the S protein. We compared two of the Japanese isolates with the ATCC-VR740 strain by using virus-neutralizing assays consisting of infectious HCoV-229E particles and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-pseudotyped virus carrying the HCoV-229E S protein. The two clinical isolates (Sendai-H/1121/04 and Niigata/01/08) did not react with antiserum to the ATCC-VR740 strain via the neutralizing test. We then constructed a pseudotype VSV-harboured chimeric S protein with the ATCC S1 and Sendai S2 regions or that with Sendai S1 and ATCC S2 regions and compared them by a neutralization test. The results revealed that the difference in the neutralizing antigenicity depends on the S1 region. This different antigenic phenotype was also confirmed by a neutralizing test with clinically isolated human sera. These results suggest that the HCoV-229E viruses prevalent in Japan are quite different from the laboratory strain ATCC-VR740 in terms of the S sequence and neutralization antigenicity, which is attributed to the difference in the S1 region.