A researcher discovered coronavirus According to news reports, he is hiding in a Laotian bat that appears to be the closest known relative of the previously discovered virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2.
In a new study, researchers from the Institut Pasteur in France and the University of Laos captured 645 bats in a limestone cave in northern Laos and looked for viruses associated with SARS-CoV-2. They found three viruses (named BANAL-52, BANAL-103, and BANAL-236) that infected horseshoe-shaped bats and shared over 95% of the entire genome with SARS-CoV -2.
One of the viruses, BANAL-52, was 96.8% identical to SARS-CoV-2. Nature News.. Therefore, BANAL-52 is genetically more similar to SARS-CoV-2 than other known viruses. Previously, the closest known associated with SARS-CoV-2 was RaTG13. It was discovered in a horseshoe-shaped bat in 2013 and shares 96.1% of its genome with SARS-CoV-2.
Related: Seven facts about the origin of the new coronavirus
In addition, the three newly discovered viruses are more similar to SARS-CoV-2 in important parts of the genome (called the receptor binding domain (RBD)) than other known viruses. virus.. RBD is part of the virus and allows it to bind to host cells. With SARS-CoV-2, RBD binds to a receptor called ACE2 on human cells, and the virus uses this receptor as a gateway to the cell.
Importantly, a new study has found that BANAL-52, BANAL-103, and BANAL-236 bind to ACE2 and can be used to invade human cells. So far, other candidates proposed as the ancestors of SARS-CoV-2 found in bats, including RaTG13, have failed to do so, the researchers said. They said the three viruses could bind to ACE2 as well as the first strains of SARS-CoV-2 found in Wuhan.
Survey results published on the preprint server Research Square Add to that the proof on September 17th SARS-CoV-2 was naturally occurring, Instead of escaping from the lab.
The results “show that sequences very close to the sequences of the first strains of SARS-CoV-2 exist in nature,” the researchers wrote in the treatise, but have not yet been peer reviewed. ..
“The SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain appeared abnormal when it was first discovered because there were so few viruses to compare,” said an evolutionary biologist from the University of Sydney, who was not involved in the study. said Edward Holmes. , Noted Bloomberg.. “Now we’re taking more samples from nature, so we’re starting to find these closely related pieces of the sequence,” Holmes said.
The authors state that their results support the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 resulted from the recombination of viral sequences present in horseshoe-shaped bats.
Nevertheless, the newly discovered virus is closely related to SARS-CoV-2, but all three viruses are found in SARS-CoV-2 and are known as “wind chime cut sites” which help the virus to invade. . Lacks the table of being. According to Nature News, to cells. This means that more research is needed to show when and how the furin site was introduced in order to better understand the origin of SARS-CoV-2.
Bloomberg said the findings are currently under review for publication in the Nature Journal.
Originally published in Live Science.