Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) is a coronavirus which causes severe gastroenteritis and atrophy of intestinal villous epithelial cells in piglets. However, the mechanism of cell death caused by TGEV is not known. In this study, we report that TGEV induces cell death by apoptosis. TGEV-induced apoptosis was demonstrated by agarose gel electrophoresis, electron microscopy, and terminal deoxytransferase digoxigenin-dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL). Double labeling experiment confirmed the result from electron microscopy and showed that most of the apoptotic cells were bystander cells as they were negative for TGEV nucleic acids. Results of this study indicate that TGEV induces apoptosis in vitro and that most of the cells undergoing apoptosis are bystander cells, thus amplifying the cytopathic effect of TGEV.
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