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Coronavirus proteins: structure and function of the oligosaccharides of the avian infectious bronchitis virus glycoproteins.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine


The recent finding that the E1 glycoproteins of murine coronaviruses contain only O-linked oligosaccharides suggested that this unusual modification might be a distinguishing feature of coronaviruses and might play an essential role in the life cycle of this family of viruses. To examine these possibilities, we analyzed the oligosaccharide moieties of the membrane proteins of the avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus. In addition, we determined the effect of inhibiting the glycosylation of these proteins on viral maturation and infectivity. Infectious bronchitis virus virions contain nine proteins. Four of these proteins, GP36, GP31, GP28, and P23, are closely related structurally and appear to be homologous to the E1 proteins of murine coronaviruses. We found that the oligosaccharides of GP31 and GP28 could be removed with endoglycosidase H and that neither of these glycoproteins was detectable in tunicamycin-treated cells. These two results indicated that GP31 and GP28 contain N-linked oligosaccharides. Therefore, O-linked oligosaccharides are not a universal feature of the small coronavirus membrane glycoproteins. Tunicamycin inhibited glycosylation of all of the viral glycoproteins but did not inhibit production of virions by infectious bronchitis virus-infected cells. The virions released by these cells contained only the three non-glycosylated viral proteins P51, P23, and P14. These particles were not infectious. Therefore, it appears that glycosylated infectious bronchitis virus polypeptides are not required for particle formation. However, the viral glycoproteins are apparently indispensible for viral infectivity.

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