Some coronaviruses are zoonotic viruses of human and veterinary medical importance. The novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory symptoms coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), associated with the current global pandemic, is characterized by pneumonia, lymphopenia, and a cytokine storm in humans that has caused catastrophic impacts on public health worldwide. Coronaviruses are known for their ability to evade innate immune surveillance exerted by the host during the early phase of infection. It is important to comprehensively investigate the interaction between highly pathogenic coronaviruses and their hosts. In this review, we summarize the existing knowledge about coronaviruses with a focus on antiviral immune responses in the respiratory and intestinal tracts to infection with severe coronaviruses that have caused epidemic diseases in humans and domestic animals. We emphasize, in particular, the strategies used by these coronaviruses to circumvent host immune surveillance, mainly including the hijack of antigen-presenting cells, shielding RNA intermediates in replication organelles, 2′-O-methylation modification for the evasion of RNA sensors, and blocking of interferon signaling cascades. We also provide information about the potential development of coronavirus vaccines and antiviral drugs.
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