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Sci Rep ; 10(1): 7257, 2020 04 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-154662


Coronaviruses that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) are speculated to have originated in bats. The mechanisms by which these viruses are maintained in individuals or populations of reservoir bats remain an enigma. Mathematical models have predicted long-term persistent infection with low levels of periodic shedding as a likely route for virus maintenance and spillover from bats. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that bat cells and MERS coronavirus (CoV) can co-exist in vitro. To test our hypothesis, we established a long-term coronavirus infection model of bat cells that are persistently infected with MERS-CoV. We infected cells from Eptesicus fuscus with MERS-CoV and maintained them in culture for at least 126 days. We characterized the persistently infected cells by detecting virus particles, protein and transcripts. Basal levels of type I interferon in the long-term infected bat cells were higher, relative to uninfected cells, and disrupting the interferon response in persistently infected bat cells increased virus replication. By sequencing the whole genome of MERS-CoV from persistently infected bat cells, we identified that bat cells repeatedly selected for viral variants that contained mutations in the viral open reading frame 5 (ORF5) protein. Furthermore, bat cells that were persistently infected with ΔORF5 MERS-CoV were resistant to superinfection by wildtype virus, likely due to reduced levels of the virus receptor, dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) and higher basal levels of interferon in these cells. In summary, our study provides evidence for a model of coronavirus persistence in bats, along with the establishment of a unique persistently infected cell culture model to study MERS-CoV-bat interactions.

J Infect Dev Ctries ; 14(1): 3-17, 2020 01 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1512


On 31 December 2019 the Wuhan Health Commission reported a cluster of atypical pneumonia cases that was linked to a wet market in the city of Wuhan, China. The first patients began experiencing symptoms of illness in mid-December 2019. Clinical isolates were found to contain a novel coronavirus with similarity to bat coronaviruses. As of 28 January 2020, there are in excess of 4,500 laboratory-confirmed cases, with > 100 known deaths. As with the SARS-CoV, infections in children appear to be rare. Travel-related cases have been confirmed in multiple countries and regions outside mainland China including Germany, France, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Canada, and the United States, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. Domestically in China, the virus has also been noted in several cities and provinces with cases in all but one provinence. While zoonotic transmission appears to be the original source of infections, the most alarming development is that human-to-human transmission is now prevelant. Of particular concern is that many healthcare workers have been infected in the current epidemic. There are several critical clinical questions that need to be resolved, including how efficient is human-to-human transmission? What is the animal reservoir? Is there an intermediate animal reservoir? Do the vaccines generated to the SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV or their proteins offer protection against 2019-nCoV? We offer a research perspective on the next steps for the generation of vaccines. We also present data on the use of in silico docking in gaining insight into 2019-nCoV Spike-receptor binding to aid in therapeutic development. Diagnostic PCR protocols can be found at

Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Disease Reservoirs/veterinary , Disease Transmission, Infectious , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Animals , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Disease Reservoirs/virology , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Travel , Vaccination , Viral Proteins/chemistry , Viral Proteins/genetics , Viral Vaccines , Zoonoses