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Morphology and morphogenesis of a coronavirus infecting intestinal epithelial cells of newborn calves

Morphology and morphogenesis of a coronavirus infecting intestinal epithelial cells of newborn calves

Experimental and Molecular Pathology 25(3): 355-370

The morphology and morphogenesis of virus strain LY-138 recovered from neonatal diarrheic calves were investigated by EM using negative-staining techniques and ultrathin sectioning. Purified viral particles were spherical in shape and measured 90 nm in average diameter in negatively stained preparations. Pleomorphic forms were also present. The virions had envelopes with petal-shaped projections characteristic of coronaviruses. In ultrathin sections, cores in viral factories were round with a diameter of 50-60 nm. Most of these cores were electron dense but some had an electron-lucent center. In cytoplasmic vacuoles, Golgi vesicles and on the apical plasmalemma of intestinal epithelial cells, the virions were round or ellipsoidal in shape, measuring 70-80 nm in diameter and had fine thread-like projections on their surfaces. Uptake of virus occurred through fusion of viral envelopes with the plasmalemma of the microvillous border or by entry into intercellular spaces and interaction with the lateral cell membranes of adjacent intestinal epithelial cells. As a result of this interaction, the lateral cell membranes became altered and ill-defined. During the early stage of infection, the rough and smooth elements of the endoplasmic reticulum became distended with electron-dense granulofibrillar material. This material accumulated subsequently as well-defined, smooth membrane-bound areas mainly in the apical cytoplasm of infected cells. These structures were considered to be viral factories. The morphogenesis of virus occurred mainly through condensation of the electron-dense, granulo-fibrillar material into viral cores in cytoplasmic viral factories or within the distended cisternae of the rough endoplasmic reticulum. Viral envelopment occurred on membranes of cytoplasmic vacuoles, Golgi vesicles or in association with membranes of viral factories. Release of virus from infected cells occurred by lysis and fragmentation of the apical plasmalemma and flow of the cytoplasm with its contents into the gut lumen. Release also occurred by digestion and lysis of extruded infected cells or by fusion of virus-containing cytoplasmic vacuoles with the apical plasmalemma and liberation of their contents.

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Accession: 005932702

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PMID: 187445

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