Viruses found in Laos bats are closest known relatives to SARS-CoV-2

Lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros), several females in maternity roost with young, extremely endangered species, Thuringia, Germany.

(Image credit: BROKER/Franz Christoph Robiller via Getty Images)

Researchers have discovered coronaviruses lurking in Laotian bats that appear to be the closest known relatives to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, found to date, according to news reports.

In a new study, researchers from the Pasteur Institute in France and the University of Laos captured 645 bats from limestone caves in northern Laos and screened them for viruses related to SARS-CoV-2. They found three viruses — which they dubbed BANAL-52, BANAL-103 and BANAL-236 — that infected horseshoe bats and shared more than 95% of their overall genome with SARS-CoV-2.

One of the viruses, BANAL-52, was 96.8% identical to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News. That makes BANAL-52 more genetically similar to SARS-CoV-2 than any other known virus. Previously, the closest known relative to SARS-CoV-2 was RaTG13, which was found in horseshoe bats in 2013 and shares 96.1% of its genome with SARS-CoV-2, Nature News reported.

Related: 7 facts about the origin of the novel coronavirus

What’s more, all three of the newly discovered viruses are more similar to SARS-CoV-2 in a key part of their genome — called the receptor binding domain (RBD) — than other known viruses. The RBD is the part of the virus that allows it to bind to host cells. With SARS-CoV-2, the RBD binds to a receptor known as ACE2 on human cells, and the virus uses this receptor as a gateway into cells.

Critically, the new study found that BANAL-52, BANAL-103 and BANAL-236 can bind to ACE2 and use it to enter human cells. So far, other candidates proposed as ancestors of SARS-CoV-2 found in bats, including RaTG13, haven’t been able to do this, the researchers said. The three viruses could bind to ACE2 about as well as early strains of SARS-CoV-2 found in Wuhan, they said.

The findings, which were posted to the preprint server Research Square on Sept. 17, add to the evidence that SARS-CoV-2 had a natural origin, rather than escaping from a lab.

The results show “that sequences very close to those of the early strains of SARS-CoV-2 … exist in nature,” the researchers wrote in their paper, which has yet to be peer-reviewed.

“The receptor binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 looked unusual when it was first discovered because there were so few viruses to compare it to,” Edward Holmes, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney, who wasn’t involved in the research, told Bloomberg. “Now that we are sampling more from nature, we are starting to find these closely related bits of gene sequence,” Holmes said.

The authors say their findings support the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 resulted from a recombination of viral sequences existing in horseshoe bats.

Still, even though the newly discovered viruses are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, all three viruses lack a sequence for what is known as the “furin cleavage site,” which is seen in SARS-CoV-2 and aids the virus’s entry into cells, according to Nature News. This means that in order to better understand the origins of SARS-CoV-2 further research is needed to show how and when the furin site was introduced.

The findings are currently being considered for publication in a Nature journal, Bloomberg reported.

Originally published on Live Science. 

Rachael Rettner

Rachael has been with Live Science since 2010. She has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University’s Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.

Note: This article have been indexed to our site. We do not claim legitimacy, ownership or copyright of any of the content above. To see the article at original source Click Here

Related Posts
Apple event calendar: Looking ahead to 2022 thumbnail

Apple event calendar: Looking ahead to 2022

Updated 1/13/22: We’re looking ahead to the events of 2022, now. Apple has not yet announced any specific events, products, or release dates, but we can make educated guesses based on its recent history and current rumors. Apple doesn’t often participate in big industry-wide events like CES or E3. The most valuable company in the world…
Read More
Scientists taught goldfish how to drive a tank on land thumbnail

Scientists taught goldfish how to drive a tank on land

A new study from researchers has proven that goldfish are capable of learning how to navigate on land. No, they haven’t suddenly grown legs and started parading around in people’s backyards. Instead, the study showcases how researchers taught goldfish to traverse the land in a tank on wheels. The idea behind the study appears to…
Read More
Reducing salt in bread without sacrificing taste thumbnail

Reducing salt in bread without sacrificing taste

Most people in the U.S. consume too much salt; adult Americans typically eat twice the daily amount recommended by dietary guidelines. Bread may not seem like an obvious culprit; however, due to high consumption and relatively high salt content, baked goods are a major source of sodium in the diet. A new study from the…
Read More
US ACG under the umbrella of Tokyo Century, A321XLR order A220 also signed a memorandum of understanding thumbnail

US ACG under the umbrella of Tokyo Century, A321XLR order A220 also signed a memorandum of understanding

 エアバスは現地時間12月30日、東京センチュリー(8439)が100%出資する米国の航空機リース会社アビエーション・キャピタル・グループ(ACG)と20機のA220に関する覚書(MoU)を締結し、40機のA320neoファミリー(うち5機はA321XLR)の確定発注で合意したと発表した。 ACGが発注するエアバス機のイメージイラスト(エアバス提供)  A220は、カナダのボンバルディアが開発した小型旅客機「Cシリーズ」の新名称。Cシリーズの製造や販売を担う事業会社「CSALP」を、エアバスが2018年7月に買収したことで改めた。Cシリーズは、CS100(100-135席)と、中胴が3.7メートル長いCS300(130-160席)の2機種が開発され、CS100をA220-100、CS300をA220-300に改称した。  A321XLRは、A321neoの航続距離を延長した超長距離型で2019年6月にローンチし、2023年の就航を目指している。XLR(Xtra Long Range)は「超長距離」を意味するもので、燃料タンクを増設することにより単通路機では世界最長の航続距離4700海里(約8704キロ)を実現し、最大11時間飛行できる。 関連リンクAviation Capital GroupAirbus A220 ・エアバスのA220、中部で日本初デモフライト 快適性アピール(19年8月6日) ・なぜA220は中部でデモフライトを実施したのか 特集・日本の100-150席市場を考える(19年8月14日) ・A220ってどんな機体? 特集・エアバス機になったCシリーズ(18年7月11日) ・エアバス、A220発表 Cシリーズを改称(18年7月10日) A321XLR ・A321XLR、前部胴体の組立開始 23年就航(21年7月12日) ・エアバス、超長距離型「A321XLR」ローンチ 単通路で世界最長、23年納入へ(19年6月17日)
Read More
Index Of News
Consider making some contribution to keep us going. We are donation based team who works to bring the best content to the readers. Every donation matters.
Donate Now

Subscription Form

Liking our Index Of News so far? Would you like to subscribe to receive news updates daily?

Total
0
Share