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Coronavirus breakthrough: Protein mutation affects spread and virulence of respiratory virus

Date:
November 10, 2015
Source:
INRS
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that a mutation in a coronavirus protein slows the spread of the virus in the central nervous system and reduces its neurovirulence. It is the first time that this phenomenon has been observed in the coronavirus family, which is responsible for one-third of common colds and is also suspected of being associated with the development or aggravation of neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and encephalitis.
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Quebec researchers have discovered that a mutation in a coronavirus protein slows the spread of the virus in the central nervous system and reduces its neurovirulence. It is the first time that this phenomenon has been observed in the coronavirus family, which is responsible for one-third of common colds and is also suspected of being associated with the development or aggravation of neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and encephalitis. The discovery, which has just been published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, was achieved in the Laboratory of Neuroimmunovirology at INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier.

In analyzing more than 60 human respiratory tract samples from patients infected by the human coronavirus, researchers discovered an important mutation in the S protein that modifies the virus capacity to infect nerve cells. The mutation is associated with the degree of viral virulence.

"We noticed that the protein mutation did not affect the virus's ability to infect the central nervous system, but that the mutated virus was less pathogenic and neurovirulent, probably as a result of changes in the way it spread from neuron to neuron due to the action of cellular proteins known as proprotein convertases, which alter the structure of the viral protein," explained lead researcher Professor Pierre Talbot. "Under these conditions, the coronavirus could more easily cause a persistent central nervous system infection. In virology, this phenomenon is known to trigger certain slow-developing neurological conditions or aggravate neurological diseases"

These results make it possible to better understand how persistent coronavirus infections take hold and may help prevent the development of associated neurological diseases in humans.


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Materials provided by INRS. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alain Le Coupanec, Marc Desforges, Mathieu Meessen-Pinard, Mathieu Dubé, Robert Day, Nabil G. Seidah, Pierre J. Talbot. Cleavage of a Neuroinvasive Human Respiratory Virus Spike Glycoprotein by Proprotein Convertases Modulates Neurovirulence and Virus Spread within the Central Nervous System. PLOS Pathogens, 2015; 11 (11): e1005261 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005261

Cite This Page:

INRS. "Coronavirus breakthrough: Protein mutation affects spread and virulence of respiratory virus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151110120451.htm>.
INRS. (2015, November 10). Coronavirus breakthrough: Protein mutation affects spread and virulence of respiratory virus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151110120451.htm
INRS. "Coronavirus breakthrough: Protein mutation affects spread and virulence of respiratory virus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151110120451.htm (accessed May 28, 2017).

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