As scientists scramble to study more concerning the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, two latest research of the virus’ genome reached controversial conclusions: specifically, that snakes are intermediate hosts of the brand new virus, and that a key coronavirus protein shares “uncanny similarities” with an HIV-1 protein. Now, research in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research refutes each concept and means that scaly, anteater-like animals known as pangolins are the lacking hyperlink for SARS-CoV-2 transmission between bats and people.
Understanding the place SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that brought about the COVID-19 pandemic — got here from, and the way it spreads is vital for its management and remedy. Most specialists agree that bats are a pure reservoir of SARS-CoV-2; however an intermediate host was wanted for it to leap from bats to people.
A current examine that analyzed the brand new virus’ genome steered snakes as this host, even supposing coronaviruses are solely identified to contaminate mammals and birds. In the meantime, an unrelated examination, in contrast, the sequence of the spike protein — a key protein accountable for getting the virus into mammalian cells — of the new coronavirus to that of HIV-1, noting surprising similarities. Though the authors withdrew this preprint manuscript after scientific criticism, it spawned rumors and conspiracy theories that the new coronavirus might have been engineered in a lab. Yang Zhang and colleagues wished to conduct a more cautious and full evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 DNA and protein sequences to resolve these points.
In comparison with the earlier research, the researchers used bigger knowledge units and newer, more correct bioinformatics strategies and databases to research the SARS-CoV-2 genome. They discovered that in distinction to the declare that four areas of the spike protein have been uniquely shared between SARS-CoV-2 and HIV-1, the four sequence segments might be present in different viruses, together with bat coronavirus.
After uncovering an error within the evaluation that prompt snakes as an intermediate host, the staff searched DNA and protein sequences remoted from pangolin tissues for ones just like SARS-CoV-2. This proof factors to the pangolin because the more than likely intermediate host for the new coronavirus, however, further intermediate hosts might be potential, the researchers say.