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NPC top publication - How the new coronavirus infects cells

NPC top publication - How the new coronavirus infects cells

March 2013

A novel respiratory illness caused by the human coronavirus hCoV-EMC has infected over 10 people to date, of which around half have died as a result of infection. NPC Hotel Manager Jeroen Demmers and his colleagues (Erasmus MC), in collaboration with researchers from Utrecht University, have identified a protein that allows the virus to infect human cells. The discovery, published in the high-impact journal Nature, may be important for the development of intervention strategies.

The scientists report that hCoV-EMC uses a cell surface protein called dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) to enter and infect human cells. They note that DPP4 is evolutionarily conserved in other species, and that hCoV-EMC can also use bat DPP4 as an entry receptor. These findings may provide clues about the host range and epidemiological history of this new virus, and the authors suggest that a bat origin seems feasible.

The researchers demonstrated that blocking the DPP4 receptor with specific antibodies prevented hCoV-EMC infection of human cells found in the lungs and airways. Thus, the authors suggest that approaches that prevent hCoV-EMC from binding to DPP4 may provide therapeutic opportunities to combat infection.


Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 is a functional receptor for the emerging human coronavirus-EMC
V. Stalin Raj, Huihui Mou, Saskia L. Smits, Dick H. W. Dekkers, Marcel A. Müller, Ronald Dijkman, Doreen Muth, Jeroen A. A. Demmers, Ali Zaki, Ron A. M. Fouchier, Volker Thiel, Christian Drosten, Peter J. M. Rottier, Albert D. M. E. Osterhaus, Berend Jan Bosch & Bart L. Haagman
Nature (2013) 495, 251–254/doi:10.1038/nature12005


How the new coronavirus infects cells

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