Evidence of the recombinant origin of a bat severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like coronavirus and its implications on the direct ancestor of SARS coronavirus

Chung-Chau Hon, Tsan-Yuk Lam, Zheng-Li Shi, Alexei J Drummond, Chi-Wai Yip, Fanya Zeng, Pui-Yi Lam, Frederick Chi-Ching Leung
Journal of Virology 2008, 82 (4): 1819-26
Bats have been identified as the natural reservoir of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like and SARS coronaviruses (SLCoV and SCoV). However, previous studies suggested that none of the currently sampled bat SLCoVs is the descendant of the direct ancestor of SCoV, based on their relatively distant phylogenetic relationship. In this study, evidence of the recombinant origin of the genome of a bat SLCoV is demonstrated. We identified a potential recombination breakpoint immediately after the consensus intergenic sequence between open reading frame 1 and the S coding region, suggesting the replication intermediates may participate in the recombination event, as previously speculated for other CoVs. Phylogenetic analysis of its parental regions suggests the presence of an uncharacterized SLCoV lineage that is phylogenetically closer to SCoVs than any of the currently sampled bat SLCoVs. Using various Bayesian molecular-clock models, interspecies transfer of this SLCoV lineage from bats to the amplifying host (e.g., civets) was estimated to have happened a median of 4.08 years before the SARS outbreak. Based on this relatively short window period, we speculate that this uncharacterized SLCoV lineage may contain the direct ancestor of SCoV. This study sheds light on the possible host bat species of the direct ancestor of SCoV, providing valuable information on the scope and focus of surveillance for the origin of SCoV.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"