Biochemical aspects of coronavirus replication and virus-host interaction

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2006;60:211-30. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.60.080805.142157.


Infection by different coronaviruses (CoVs) causes alterations in the transcriptional and translational patterns, cell cycle, cytoskeleton, and apoptosis pathways of the host cells. In addition, CoV infection may cause inflammation, alter immune and stress responses, and modify the coagulation pathways. The balance between the up- and downregulated genes could explain the pathogenesis caused by these viruses. We review specific aspects of CoV-host interactions. CoV genome replication takes place in the cytoplasm in a membrane-protected microenvironment and may control the cell machinery by locating some of their proteins in the host cell nucleus. CoVs initiate translation by cap-dependent and cap-independent mechanisms. CoV transcription involves a discontinuous RNA synthesis (template switching) during the extension of a negative copy of the subgenomic mRNAs. The requirement for base-pairing during transcription has been formally demonstrated in arteriviruses and CoVs. CoV N proteins have RNA chaperone activity that may help initiate template switching. Both viral and cellular proteins are required for replication and transcription, and the role of selected proteins is addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Cycle
  • Coronavirus / genetics
  • Coronavirus / physiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / genetics
  • Coronavirus Infections / metabolism
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology
  • Humans
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA, Viral / biosynthesis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Virus Replication*


  • RNA, Viral