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The entire nucleotide sequences of the spike glycoprotein (S) genes of the highly virulent bovine coronavirus (BCV) strain BCV-LY138, the avirulent BCV-L9 and related Norden Vaccine (BCV-Vaccine) strains were determined using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify cDNAs obtained by reverse transcription of viral RNA, and to produce single strand cDNAs for DNA sequencing. The S gene sequences of these viral strains were compared with those of recently published strains BCV-Mebus, BCV-Quebec, and BCV-F15. An open reading frame of 4092 nucleotides, encoding a protein of 1363 amino acid residues, was found in all six strains. Frameshifts and insertions or deletions were not observed except for the BCV-Fl 5. The S gene sequences were more than 98% conserved overall inspite of different origins of the six viruses. There were 45 to 56 nt differences between the virulent and avirulent groups while there were 6 to 14 nt differences among four avirulent strains. Comparison of the deduced amino acid sequences indicated that the S proteins had typical properties of membrane glycoproteins. Nineteen Winked glycosylation sites were predicted in five strains, and 18 of them were conserved in the avirulent strain BCV-L9. The sequence KRRSRR at the predicted proteolytic cleavage site was identified in five strains while the sequence KRRSVR was found in BCV-Fl 5. Substitutions of few amino acids in the putative fusogenic domains and two prolines at 507 and 567 in the antigenic domains may cause altered immunogenic and other functional properties of the S proteins specified by the virulent and avirulent BCV strains. Nine amino acid substitutions between the virulent and avirulent groups may correlate with BCV virulence. © 1991.

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