RNA recombination of murine coronaviruses: Recombination between fusion-positive mouse hepatitis virus A59 and fusion-negative mouse hepatitis virus 2

J. G. Keck, L. H. Soe, Shinji Makino, S. A. Stohlman, M. M C Lai

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It has previously been shown that the murine coronavirus mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) undergoes RNA recombination at a relatively high frequency in both tissue culture and infected animals. Thus far, all of the recombination sites had been localized at the 5' half of the RNA genome. We have now performed a cross between MHV-2, a fusion-negative murine coronavirus, and a temperature-sensitive mutant of the A59 strain of MHV, which is fusion positive at the permissive temperature. By selecting fusion-positive viruses at the nonpermissive temperature, we isolated several recombinants containing multiple crossovers in a single genome. Some of the recombinants became fusion negative during the plaque purification. The fusion ability of the recombinants parallels the presence or absence of the A59 genomic sequences encoding peplomers. Several of the recombinants have crossovers within 3' end genes which encode viral structural proteins, N and E1. These recombination sites were not specifically selected with the selection markers used. This finding, together with results of previous recombination studies, indicates that RNA recombination can occur almost anywhere from the 5' end to the 3' end along the entire genome. The data also show that the replacement of A59 genetic sequences at the 5' end of gene C, which encodes the peplomer protein, with the fusion-negative MHV-2 sequences do not affect the fusion ability of the recombinant viruses. Thus, the crucial determinant for the fusion-inducing capability appears to reside in the more carboxyl portion of the peplomer protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1989-1998
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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