bat source of coronavirus

  • 6 min read
  • Feb 05, 2019

Wuhan coronavirus and SARS both likely originated in bats — here
Wuhan coronavirus and SARS both likely originated in bats — here’s …

The novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan, China, last year and has since led to large-scale COVID-19 epidemic and spread to more than 70 other countries is a product of natural evolution, according to findings published in the journal Nature Medicine.

public genome sequence analysis of data from the SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses found no evidence that the virus was created in a laboratory or engineered.

“by comparing the data available genome sequence for the strain of coronavirus is known, we can unequivocally determine that the SARS-CoV-2 derived through natural processes,” said Kristian Andersen, PhD, a professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research and corresponding author on the paper

in addition to Andersen, author on the paper, “the proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” including Robert F. Garry, of Tulane University .; Edward Holmes, from the University of Sydney; Andrew Rambaut, from the University of Edinburgh; W. Ian Lipkin, from Columbia University.

Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that can cause diseases ranging widely in severity. The first known severe disease caused by a coronavirus appeared in 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in China. A second outbreak of severe disease began in 2012 in Saudi Arabia with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (mer).

On December 31 last year, the Chinese government warned the World Health Organization outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus causes severe illness, which was later named SARS-CoV-2. As the date of February 20, 2020, nearly 167 500 COVID 19 cases have been documented, although many milder cases there may be undiagnosed. The virus has killed more than 6,600 people.

Shortly after the epidemic began, Chinese scientists sequenced the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 and make the data available to researchers worldwide. resulting genome sequence data has shown that the Chinese authorities quickly detected the epidemic and that the number of COVID 19 cases have increased since humans after a single introduction into the human population. Andersen and collaborators at several other research institutions that use this data to sequencing to explore the origins and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 by focusing on some of the tell-tale feature of the virus.

The scientists analyzed the genetic template for protein spikes, armatures beyond virus uses to grab and penetrate the outer wall of the cells of humans and animals. More specifically, they focus on two important features of the spike protein: receptor-binding domain (RBD), a kind of grappling hook tackle to the host cell, and the cleavage site, can opener molecules that allow the virus to unlock and enter host cells.

The evidence for the natural evolution

scientists found that parts of the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 protein spikes have evolved to effectively target the molecular features on the outside of human cells called ACE2 receptor involved in regulating blood pressure. SARS-CoV spike protein-2 very effectively bind to human cells, in fact, that the scientists concluded it was the result of natural selection and not a product of genetic engineering.

This evidence for the evolutionary nature of data supported by SARS-CoV-2’s backbone – the molecular structure as a whole. If someone is looking to engineer a new coronavirus as a pathogen, they will be built on the backbone of a virus known to cause disease. But the scientists found that the SARS-CoV-2 backbone differ substantially from those of the coronavirus already known and largely resembles the related virus found in bats and pangolins.

“These two features of viruses, mutations in the RBD of the spike protein and backbone different, laboratory manipulation rules as a potential origin for SARS-CoV-2” says Andersen.

Josie Golding, Ph.D., lead epidemic in the UK-based Wellcome Trust, said the findings by Andersen and his colleagues were “very important to bring evidence-based view of the rumors that have circulated about the origins of the virus (SARS- CoV-2) causes COVID-19. ”

“They concluded that the virus is the product of natural evolution,” Goulding adds, “put an end to speculation about deliberate genetic engineering.”

The possibility of viral origin

Based on the analysis of their genome sequencing, Andersen and his collaborators concluded that the origins are most likely to SARS-CoV-2 follow one of two possible scenarios.

In one scenario, the virus evolved into the current state of pathogens through natural selection in a variety of non-human and then jumped to humans. This is how the previous coronavirus outbreak has emerged, humans contracted the virus after direct contact with civets (SARS) and camel (mer). The researchers propose bat as the most likely reservoir for SARS-CoV-2 because it is very similar to the coronavirus bat. There are no documented cases of bat-human transmission directly, however, showed that the intermediate host which may be involved between bats and humans.

In this scenario, both typical features of SARS-CoV spike protein-2 – part RBD binding to cells and virus cleavage site that opens up – would have evolved to their current state before entering human. In this case, the current epidemic may come up quickly as soon as humans were infected, as the virus will have evolved features that make it a pathogen and can spread between people.

On the proposed scenario, the non-pathogenic version of the virus jumping from host animals to humans and then evolved into the current state of pathogens in human populations. For example, some coronavirus from anteaters, armadillos like mammal found in Asia and Africa, has a structure very similar to the SARS RBD-CoV-2. A coronavirus of pangolin may have been transmitted to humans, either directly or through an intermediary host such as weasels or ferrets.

Then the different characteristics of other proteins surge of SARS-CoV-2 cleavage site, could thrive in the human host, perhaps through limited circulation detected in the human population before the beginning of the epidemic. The researchers found that the SARS-CoV-2 cleavage site, cleavage sites appear similar to bird flu strain that has been proven to transmit easily between people. SARS-CoV-2 could thrive as a malignant cleavage site in human cells and soon hit the current epidemic, as the coronavirus which would probably be much better able to spread between people.

The study co-author Andrew Rambaut cautioned that it is difficult if not impossible to know at this point which of the most probable scenario. If SARS-CoV-2 entered the human in the form of current pathogen from animal sources, it raises the possibility of future outbreaks, as the virus strains that cause disease can still be circulating in animal populations and may once again jumped to humans. A lower likelihood of non-pathogenic coronavirus entered the human population and then developed properties similar to SARS-CoV-2.

Funding for this research was provided by the US National Institutes of Health, the Pew Charitable Trust, the Wellcome Trust, the European Research Council, and ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship

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