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Open AccessArticle

The S2 Subunit of QX-type Infectious Bronchitis Coronavirus Spike Protein Is an Essential Determinant of Neurotropism

Key Laboratory of Animal Epidemiology of the Ministry of Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
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Viruses 2019, 11(10), 972; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11100972
Received: 2 September 2019 / Revised: 17 October 2019 / Accepted: 21 October 2019 / Published: 22 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
Some coronaviruses (CoVs) have an extra furin cleavage site (RRKR/S, furin-S2′ site) upstream of the fusion peptide in the spike protein, which plays roles in virion adsorption and fusion. Mutation of the S2′ site of QX genotype (QX-type) infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) spike protein (S) in a recombinant virus background results in higher pathogenicity, pronounced neural symptoms and neurotropism when compared with conditions in wild-type IBV (WT-IBV) infected chickens. In this study, we present evidence suggesting that recombinant IBV with a mutant S2′ site (furin-S2′ site) leads to higher mortality. Infection with mutant IBV induces severe encephalitis and breaks the blood–brain barrier. The results of a neutralization test and immunoprotection experiment show that an original serum and vaccine can still provide effective protection in vivo and in vitro. This is the first demonstration of IBV-induced neural symptoms in chickens with encephalitis and the furin-S2′ site as a determinant of neurotropism. View Full-Text
Keywords: coronavirus; infectious bronchitis virus; QX type; furin-S2′ site; encephalitis; neurotropism coronavirus; infectious bronchitis virus; QX type; furin-S2′ site; encephalitis; neurotropism
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Cheng, J.; Zhao, Y.; Xu, G.; Zhang, K.; Jia, W.; Sun, Y.; Zhao, J.; Xue, J.; Hu, Y.; Zhang, G. The S2 Subunit of QX-type Infectious Bronchitis Coronavirus Spike Protein Is an Essential Determinant of Neurotropism. Viruses 2019, 11, 972.

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