In vitro investigations of host-virus interactions are reliant on suitable cell and tissue culture models. Results are only as good as the model they are generated in. However, choosing cell models for in vitro work often depends on availability and previous use alone. Despite the vast increase in coronavirus research over the past few years, scientists are still heavily reliant on: non-human, highly heterogeneous or not fully differentiated, or naturally unsusceptible cells requiring overexpression of receptors and other accessory factors. Complex primary or stem cell models are highly representative of human tissues but are expensive and time-consuming to develop and maintain with limited suitability for high-throughput experiments.
Using tissue-specific expression patterns, we identified human kidney cells as an ideal target for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and broader coronavirus infection. We show use of the well-characterized human kidney cell line Caki-1 for infection with three human coronaviruses: Betacoronaviruses SARS-CoV-2 and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus and Alphacoronavirus human coronavirus 229E. Caki-1 cells show equal or superior susceptibility to all three coronaviruses when compared to other commonly used cell lines for the cultivation of the respective virus. Antibody staining against SARS-CoV-2 N protein shows comparable replication rates. A panel of 26 custom antibodies shows the location of SARS43 CoV-2 proteins during replication using immunocytochemistry. In addition, Caki-1 cells were
found to be susceptible to two other human respiratory viruses, influenza A virus and respiratory syncytial virus, making them an ideal model for cross-comparison for a broad range of respiratory viruses.


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Daniels, A., Fletcher, S., Kerr, H., Kratze, A., Pinto, R., Kriplani, N., Craig, N., Hastie, C., Davies, P., Digard, P., Thiel, V. & Tait-Burkard, C. 2023, 'One for all – Human kidney Caki-1 cells are highly susceptible to infection with corona and other respiratory viruses', Journal of Virology, pp. 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.00555-23

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Last updated: 13 September 2023
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