JOURNAL ARTICLE

Close relationship between SARS-coronavirus and group 2 coronavirus

Ok Ju Kim, Dong Hun Lee, Chan Hee Lee
Journal of Microbiology / the Microbiological Society of Korea 2006, 44 (1): 83-91
16554722
The sudden appearance and potential lethality of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in humans has resulted in a focusing of new attention on the determination of both its origins and evolution. The relationship existing between SARS-CoV and other groups of coronaviruses was determined via analyses of phylogenetic trees and comparative genomic analyses of the coronavirus genes: polymerase (Orf1ab), spike (S), envelope (E), membrane (M) and nucleocapsid (N). Although the coronaviruses are traditionally classed into 3 groups, with SARS-CoV forming a 4th group, the phylogenetic position and origins of SARS-CoV remain a matter of some controversy. Thus, we conducted extensive phylogenetic analyses of the genes common to all coronavirus groups, using the Neighbor-joining, Maximum-likelihood, and Bayesian methods. Our data evidenced largely identical topology for all of the obtained phylogenetic trees, thus supporting the hypothesis that the relationship existing between SARS-CoV and group 2 coronavirus is a monophyletic one. Additional comparative genomic studies, including sequence similarity and protein secondary structure analyses, suggested that SARS-CoV may bear a closer relationship with group 2 than with the other coronavirus groups. Although our data strongly suggest that group 2 coronaviruses are most closely related with SARS-CoV, further and more detailed analyses may provide us with an increased amount of information regarding the origins and evolution of the coronaviruses, most notably SARS-CoV.

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