Free chlorine is an effective disinfectant for controlling adenoviruses in drinking water, but little is known about the underlying inactivation mechanisms. The objective of this study was to elucidate the molecular components of adenovirus type 2 (Ad2) targeted by free chlorine during the inactivation process. The effects of free chlorine treatment on several Ad2 molecular components and associated life cycle events were compared to its effect on the ability of adenovirus to complete its life cycle, i.e., viability. Free chlorine treatment of Ad2 virions did not impair their ability to interact with monoclonal antibodies specific for hexon and fiber proteins of the Ad2 capsid, as measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, nor did it impair their interaction with recombinant, purified Coxsackie-adenovirus receptor (CAR) proteins in vitro. Free chlorine-treated Ad2 virions also retained their ability to bind to CAR receptors on A549 cell monolayers, despite being unable to form plaques, suggesting that free chlorine inactivates Ad2 by inhibiting a postbinding event of the Ad2 life cycle. DNA isolated from Ad2 virions that had been inactivated by free chlorine was able to be amplified by PCR, indicating that genome damage was not the cause of inactivation. However, inactivated Ad2 virions were unable to express E1A viral proteins during infection of A549 host cells, as measured by using immunoblotting. Collectively, these results indicate that free chlorine inactivates adenovirus by damaging proteins that govern life cycle processes occurring after host cell attachment, such as endocytosis, endosomal lysis, or nuclear delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2946-2954
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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