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MERS coronavirus infects human lung cells via sugar molecules

Publication by Bart Haagmans and his fellow virologists in scientific journal PNAS. The MERS coronavirus (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) is a zoonotic virus that originated in dromedaries. The viruses can transfer to humans, causing serious lung infections that often end in death.

Bart Haagmans (department of Viroscience, Erasmus MC) and Berend-Jan Bosch (faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University) have discovered that the virus uses sugar molecules to penetrate into the host cell. The publication about their findings was published in the scientific journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

cellsHaagmans, Bosch and their colleagues from Virology/Viroscience conducted research into how the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV) attaches to the cell: “Together we had already proven that the MERS coronavirus uses one of the host cell’s proteins (DPP2) to bond with the cell. Now we have discovered that the MERS coronavirus also attaches to sugar molecules called sialic acids in order to infect human lung cells. The virus appears to have a clear preference for specific sialic acids, but there is a considerable variation within the sialic acids and their distribution among different animals and humans. We therefore suspect that the preference that the MERS virus displays for specific types of sialic acids has an effect on its ability to infect the host cell.”

Publication in PNAS
The study was conducted in collaboration with a variety of Dutch and international partners. The publication was recently published in the scientific journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

gepubliceerd: 16 oktober 2017

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