Receptor recognition is a major determinant of the host range, cross-species infections, and pathogenesis of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). A defined receptor-binding domain (RBD) in the SARS-CoV spike protein specifically recognizes its host receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). This article reviews the latest knowledge about how RBDs from different SARS-CoV strains interact with ACE2 from several animal species. Detailed research on these RBD/ACE2 interactions has established important principles on host receptor adaptations, cross-species infections, and future evolution of SARS-CoV. These principles may apply to other emerging animal viruses, including the recently emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). This paper forms part of a series of invited articles in Antiviral Research on "From SARS to MERS: 10 years of research on highly pathogenic human coronaviruses".
- Middle East respiratory syndrome
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome
- Spike protein
- Virus evolution