The emergence of human coronavirus EMC: how scared should we be?mBio. 2013 Apr 09; 4(2):e00191-13.MBIO
A novel betacoronavirus, human coronavirus (HCoV-EMC), has recently been detected in humans with severe respiratory disease. Further characterization of HCoV-EMC suggests that this virus is different from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) because it is able to replicate in multiple mammalian cell lines and it does not use angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 as a receptor to achieve infection. Additional research is urgently needed to better understand the pathogenicity and tissue tropism of this virus in humans. In their recent study published in mBio, Kindler et al. shed some light on these important topics (E. Kindler, H. R. Jónsdóttir, M. Muth, O. J. Hamming, R. Hartmann, R. Rodriguez, R. Geffers, R. A. Fouchier, C. Drosten, M. A. Müller, R. Dijkman, and V. Thiel, mBio 4:e00611-12, 2013). These authors report the use of differentiated pseudostratified human primary airway epithelial cells, an in vitro model with high physiological relevance to the human airway epithelium, to characterize the cellular tropism of HCoV-EMC. More importantly, the authors demonstrate the potential use of type I and type III interferons (IFNs) to control viral infection.