Coronaviruses are important human and animal pathogens, with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus being prominent examples. Although animal coronavirus- associated diseases, such as feline infectious peritonitis, have been reported more than a century ago, the causative agents were only recognized in the late 1960s as a group of related enveloped RNA viruses. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses approved a separate virus family Coronaviridae in 1975. More recently, an additional taxonomic rank was introduced in this family, with coronaviruses being classified as members of the subfamily Coronavirinae that, currently, is comprised of four genera. The first complete genome sequence of a coronavirus (avian infectious bronchitis virus) was published in 1987. The study revealed that, compared to other RNA viruses, coronaviruses have extremely large genomes of approximately 30 kb. In 1989, Alexander Gorbalenya and colleagues published the first comprehensive sequence analysis of a coronavirus replicase gene.
Functional predictions arising from this seminal work provided a framework for many subsequent biochemical, structural, and phylogenetic studies of corona- and related viruses. The studies identified several phylogenetically related lineages of plus-strand RNA viruses that, despite profound divergence at the sequence level, were revealed to encode a conserved array of functional domains in their replicase genes and to use similar strategies to express and replicate their large polycistronic genomes. These viruses are now recognized as members of the order Nidovirales and belong to one of the four established families Arteriviridae, Mesoniviridae, Coronaviridae, and Roniviridae. Nidovirus RNA synthesis and processing was revealed to involve an unusually large number of proteins, and also the enormous complexity of interactions between nidoviral and host cell functions is exceptional in the RNA virus world. Coronaviruses and other nidoviruses with genome sizes of more than 20 kb also stick out from all other RNA viruses by encoding a 30-to-50 exoribonuclease that was shown to increase the fidelity of viral RNA synthesis and is thought to be a key factor in the evolution of RNA genomes of this large size.
Chapter One. Supramolecular Architecture of the Coronavirus Particle
Chapter Two. Coronavirus Spike Protein and Tropism Changes
Chapter Three. The Nonstructural Proteins Directing Coronavirus RNA Synthesis and Processing
Chapter Four. Coronavirus cis-Acting RNA Elements
Chapter Five. Viral and Cellular mRNA Translation in Coronavirus-Infected Cells
Chapter Six. Feline Coronaviruses: Pathogenesis of Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Chapter Seven. Interaction of SARS and MERS Coronaviruses with the Antiviral Interferon Response
Chapter Eight. Molecular Basis of Coronavirus Virulence and Vaccine Development
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