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Bioinformatics analysis of the recent MERS-CoV with special reference to the virus-encoded Spike protein

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  • Bioinformatics analysis of the recent MERS-CoV with special reference to the virus-encoded Spike protein
    Bioinformatics analysis of the recent MERS-CoV with special reference to the virus-encoded Spike protein

    Mahmoud Kandeel1,2*
    1. Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kafrelshikh University, Kafrelshikh 33516, Egypt
    2. United Graduate School of Drug Discovery and Medical Information Sciences, Gifu University, Yanagido 1-1, Gifu 501-1193, Japan.


    Coronaviruses (CoVs) are characterized by high recombination frequencies, resulting in sudden outbreak of newly evolved viruses with different pathogenicity, tissue tropism and high genome sequence variability. Recently, an outbreak of CoVs was evolved in the Arabian Pennsylvania, which is known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Full genome sequence analysis of MERS-CoV isolates and its comparison with other CoV full genome sequences revealed a low to medium sequence identity. Furthermore, it showed more sequence identity and phylogenetic relations with bat-derived CoVs and lower values with animal-derived CoVs, indicating low possibility of zoonotic origin and possible incrimination of bats in the spread of MERS-CoV. The higher neighbor homology was evident with BetaCoV and their associated SARS-CoV. The spike protein, which is a highly variable part of CoV genome and responsible for difference in tissue tropism and virus entry to the cell, showed more or less similar profile of the whole genome analysis. Furthermore, the highest identity was with those in bats with Asian origin of CoV and there was lower homology with isolates from other continents. With low human-to-human transmission and low homology with CoV of animal origin, bats are thought to be the source of MERS-CoV, especially those bearing the Asian isolates of CoV.


    Camels are thought to be the source for MERS-CoV [17]. Recently, neutralizing antibodies against MERSCoV were found in all samples of camels in the Middle East [18]. This does not suggest that camels are the source of infection. Confirmatory tests and isolation of the virus from camels is still yet undetermined. Based on the obtained phylogenetic tree, poor relation was found between MERS-CoV and those coronaviruses isolated from bovines and other animals. Bovine CoV was found to be circulating in cattle causing unnoticed mild symptoms to sever outbreaks. Furthermore, the virus was involved in enteric manifestations and now evolved to include also respiratory symptoms [19-21]. Camels are infected with CoV-like viruses (genetically related with bovine CoV) causing enteric symptoms in calves [20, 22]. However, the presence or absence of respiratory forms of CoV in camels is still not known. The claim that camels might be the source of MERS-CoV still needs further investigations. Bats are the major reservoir for CoV infections. Recently, 96 bats representing 7 species (Rhinopoma hardwickii, Rhinopoma microphyllum, Taphozous perforatus, Pipistrellus kuhlii, Eptesicus bottae, Eidolon helvum, and Rosettus aegyptiacus) were captured and examined for their CoV contents [23]. The prevalence of CoVs was high (≈28% of fecal samples), MERS-CoV was found in only 1 bat. MERSpositive signal was obtained in PCR analysis of the T. perforatus bat captured in Bisha near the home and workplace of the MERS index case-patient. This result indicates that bats are the ultimate source MERS-CoV. To this end, more details about the origin, carriers, intermediate hosts and pathogenesis of MERS-CoV still needs further investigations...

    Under License of Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License 1
    Vol. 1 No. 1:1
    doi: 10.3823/1500
    iMedPub Journals
    This article is available from:
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