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      Genomic Characterization of a Newly Discovered Coronavirus Associated with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Humans


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          A novel human coronavirus (HCoV-EMC/2012) was isolated from a man with acute pneumonia and renal failure in June 2012. This report describes the complete genome sequence, genome organization, and expression strategy of HCoV-EMC/2012 and its relation with known coronaviruses. The genome contains 30,119 nucleotides and contains at least 10 predicted open reading frames, 9 of which are predicted to be expressed from a nested set of seven subgenomic mRNAs. Phylogenetic analysis of the replicase gene of coronaviruses with completely sequenced genomes showed that HCoV-EMC/2012 is most closely related to Tylonycteris bat coronavirus HKU4 (BtCoV-HKU4) and Pipistrellus bat coronavirus HKU5 (BtCoV-HKU5), which prototype two species in lineage C of the genus Betacoronavirus. In accordance with the guidelines of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, and in view of the 75% and 77% amino acid sequence identity in 7 conserved replicase domains with BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5, respectively, we propose that HCoV-EMC/2012 prototypes a novel species in the genus Betacoronavirus. HCoV-EMC/2012 may be most closely related to a coronavirus detected in Pipistrellus pipistrellus in The Netherlands, but because only a short sequence from the most conserved part of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase-encoding region of the genome was reported for this bat virus, its genetic distance from HCoV-EMC remains uncertain. HCoV-EMC/2012 is the sixth coronavirus known to infect humans and the first human virus within betacoronavirus lineage C.


          Coronaviruses are capable of infecting humans and many animal species. Most infections caused by human coronaviruses are relatively mild. However, the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) caused by SARS-CoV in 2002 to 2003 and the fatal infection of a human by HCoV-EMC/2012 in 2012 show that coronaviruses are able to cause severe, sometimes fatal disease in humans. We have determined the complete genome of HCoV-EMC/2012 using an unbiased virus discovery approach involving next-generation sequencing techniques, which enabled subsequent state-of-the-art bioinformatics, phylogenetics, and taxonomic analyses. By establishing its complete genome sequence, HCoV-EMC/2012 was characterized as a new genotype which is closely related to bat coronaviruses that are distant from SARS-CoV. We expect that this information will be vital to rapid advancement of both clinical and vital research on this emerging pathogen.

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          Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-like virus in Chinese horseshoe bats.

          Although the finding of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in caged palm civets from live animal markets in China has provided evidence for interspecies transmission in the genesis of the SARS epidemic, subsequent studies suggested that the civet may have served only as an amplification host for SARS-CoV. In a surveillance study for CoV in noncaged animals from the wild areas of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region, we identified a CoV closely related to SARS-CoV (bat-SARS-CoV) from 23 (39%) of 59 anal swabs of wild Chinese horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus sinicus) by using RT-PCR. Sequencing and analysis of three bat-SARS-CoV genomes from samples collected at different dates showed that bat-SARS-CoV is closely related to SARS-CoV from humans and civets. Phylogenetic analysis showed that bat-SARS-CoV formed a distinct cluster with SARS-CoV as group 2b CoV, distantly related to known group 2 CoV. Most differences between the bat-SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV genomes were observed in the spike genes, ORF 3 and ORF 8, which are the regions where most variations also were observed between human and civet SARS-CoV genomes. In addition, the presence of a 29-bp insertion in ORF 8 of bat-SARS-CoV genome, not in most human SARS-CoV genomes, suggests that it has a common ancestor with civet SARS-CoV. Antibody against recombinant bat-SARS-CoV nucleocapsid protein was detected in 84% of Chinese horseshoe bats by using an enzyme immunoassay. Neutralizing antibody to human SARS-CoV also was detected in bats with lower viral loads. Precautions should be exercised in the handling of these animals.
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            Positional effect of single bulge nucleotide on PNA(peptide nucleic acid)/DNA hybrid stability

            We report positional effect of bulge nucleotide on PNA/DNA hybrid stability. CD spectra showed that PNA/DNA hybrids required at least seven base pairings at a stem region to form a bulged structure. On the other hand, DNA/DNA could form bulged structure when there are only four base pairings adjacent to the bulge nucleotide. We discuss why PNA requests such a many base pairings to form bulged structure from a nearest neighbor standpoint.
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              Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus ORF6 antagonizes STAT1 function by sequestering nuclear import factors on the rough endoplasmic reticulum/Golgi membrane.

              The host innate immune response is an important deterrent of severe viral infection in humans and animals. Nuclear import factors function as key gatekeepers that regulate the transport of innate immune regulatory cargo to the nucleus of cells to activate the antiviral response. Using severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) as a model, we demonstrate that SARS-COV ORF6 protein is localized to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER)/Golgi membrane in infected cells, where it binds to and disrupts nuclear import complex formation by tethering karyopherin alpha 2 and karyopherin beta 1 to the membrane. Retention of import factors at the ER/Golgi membrane leads to a loss of STAT1 transport into the nucleus in response to interferon signaling, thus blocking the expression of STAT1-activated genes that establish an antiviral state. We mapped the region of ORF6, which binds karyopherin alpha 2, to the C terminus of ORF6 and show that mutations in the C terminus no longer bind karyopherin alpha 2 or block the nuclear import of STAT1. We also show that N-terminal deletions of karyopherin alpha 2 that no longer bind to karyopherin beta 1 still retain ORF6 binding activity but no longer block STAT1 nuclear import. Recombinant SARS-CoV lacking ORF6 did not tether karyopherin alpha 2 to the ER/Golgi membrane and allowed the import of the STAT1 complex into the nucleus. We discuss the likely implications of these data on SARS-CoV replication and pathogenesis.

                Author and article information

                American Society of Microbiology (1752 N St., N.W., Washington, DC )
                20 November 2012
                Nov-Dec 2012
                : 3
                : 6
                : e00473-12
                Viroscience Lab, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands [ a ];
                Molecular Virology Laboratory, Department of Medical Microbiology, Center of Infectious Diseases, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands [ b ];
                Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia [ c ]; and
                Faculty of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia [ d ]
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to Ron A. M. Fouchier, r.fouchier@ 123456erasmusmc.nl .

                Editor Michael Buchmeier, University of California, Irvine

                Copyright © 2012 van Boheemen et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 24 October 2012
                : 1 November 2012
                Page count
                Pages: 9
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                November/December 2012

                Life sciences
                Life sciences


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