Date of Award

Fall 12-6-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

MS Biology




Daniel Brian Nichols, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jane Ko, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Constantine Bitsaktsis, Ph.D.


coronaviruses, MHV-A59, Fc fusion proteins


Coronaviruses are a significant threat to human health. In the last two decades there have been SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks. Currently, SARS-CoV-2 is affecting millions across the world. With the emergence of new coronaviruses and variants such as the B.1.1.529 (Omicron) variant, it is imperative that these viruses are studied in depth. However, the ability to study these viruses can be limited by the biosafety level required. Since working with SARS-CoV-2 requires a biosafety level 3 containment which is not always readily available, a mouse coronavirus can be used as a model for SARS-CoV-2. Mouse Hepatitis Virus has many strains but the MHV-A59 strain has been shown to approximate SARS-CoV in C57BL/6 mice. SARS-CoV and MHV belong to the same Betacoronavirus genus and their spike proteins have been found to be closely related. In this study the MHV-A59 spike protein was used to create a Fc fusion protein. The Fc part of an antibody is responsible for its effector function and targeting antigens to Fc receptors has been shown to increase immune responses which ultimately provide better protection against pathogens. The recombinant Fc fusion protein created in this study, consists of the spike amino acid residues 1-730 which contain the receptor binding domain (RBD) for MHV-A59 and the Fc portion from the mouse IgG2a immunoglobulin. This Fc fusion protein was created using molecular biology techniques and verified through restriction enzyme digestion and Sanger Sequencing. This recombinant protein will be used to study immune responses to coronaviruses using a mouse model.

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