Archives of virology

Inability of rat DPP4 to allow MERS-CoV infection revealed by using a VSV pseudotype bearing truncated MERS-CoV spike protein.

PMID 26138557


Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus (Co-V) contains a single spike (S) protein, which binds to a receptor molecule, dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4; also known as CD26), and serves as a neutralizing antigen. Pseudotyped viruses are useful for measuring neutralization titers against highly infectious viruses as well as for studying their mechanism of entry. In this study, we constructed a series of cytoplasmic deletion mutants of MERS-CoV S and compared the efficiency with which they formed pseudotypes with vesicular stomatitis virus. A pseudotype bearing an S protein with the C-terminal 16 amino acids deleted (MERSpv-St16) reached a maximum titer that was approximately tenfold higher than that of a pseudotype bearing a non-truncated full-length S protein. Using MERSpv-St16, we demonstrated the inability of rat DPP4 to serve as a functional receptor for MERS-CoV, suggesting that rats are not susceptible to MERS-CoV infection. This study provides novel information that enhances our understanding of the host range of MERS-CoV.