Porcine respiratory coronavirus (PRCV), a spike (S) gene deletion mutant of Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), causes mild or subclinical respiratory infections in pigs. The shedding of PRCV/TGEV was studied at different days post-arrival in fecal and nasal swabs from PRCV/TGEV seronegative sentinel pigs introduced into a PRCV seropositive herd with questionable TGEV serology and diarrhea. Nasal shedding of PRCV was detected in 57% and 63% of samples by nested-RT-PCR and cell culture immunofluorescence (CCIF), respectively. However fecal shedding of PRCV was detected in 37% of the samples by nested-RT-PCR and 19% by CCIF. Four respiratory and 5 fecal PRCV strains were isolated in swine testicle cells including nasal/fecal PRCV pairs (isolated at the same time) from 3 pigs. Comparison of nasal/fecal PRCV pairs from individual pigs revealed different deletions in the spike (S) gene (648 or 681 nt) in 2 pairs and a consistent change in nt 790/791 (aa T to V) for all pairs. In preliminary studies, inoculation of gnotobiotic pigs with each plaque-purified pair of the nasal and fecal PRCV isolates, revealed no clinical disease but different tropisms. The nasal isolate was shed both nasally and in feces, but the fecal isolate was shed only marginally in feces, and not nasally. Our results show that nested-RT-PCR was as sensitive as CCIF for PRCV detection in nasal swabs, but was more sensitive than CCIF for PRCV detection in fecal samples; alternatively PRCV shed in feces was more labile with loss of infectivity. The S-gene sequence differences found between the fecal and respiratory PRCV isolates may influence their tissue tropism. These new PRCV isolates should be useful to understand the molecular basis of coronavirus tropism and evolution in infected swine.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: May 1, 2004
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