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J Virol ; 94(15)2020 07 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-661225


The emergence of a novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), resulted in a pandemic. Here, we used X-ray structures of human ACE2 bound to the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein (S) from SARS-CoV-2 to predict its binding to ACE2 proteins from different animals, including pets, farm animals, and putative intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2. Comparing the interaction sites of ACE2 proteins known to serve or not serve as receptors allows the definition of residues important for binding. From the 20 amino acids in ACE2 that contact S, up to 7 can be replaced and ACE2 can still function as the SARS-CoV-2 receptor. These variable amino acids are clustered at certain positions, mostly at the periphery of the binding site, while changes of the invariable residues prevent S binding or infection of the respective animal. Some ACE2 proteins even tolerate the loss or acquisition of N-glycosylation sites located near the S interface. Of note, pigs and dogs, which are not infected or are not effectively infected and have only a few changes in the binding site, exhibit relatively low levels of ACE2 in the respiratory tract. Comparison of the RBD of S of SARS-CoV-2 with that from bat coronavirus strain RaTG13 (Bat-CoV-RaTG13) and pangolin coronavirus (Pangolin-CoV) strain hCoV-19/pangolin/Guangdong/1/2019 revealed that the latter contains only one substitution, whereas Bat-CoV-RaTG13 exhibits five. However, ACE2 of pangolin exhibits seven changes relative to human ACE2, and a similar number of substitutions is present in ACE2 of bats, raccoon dogs, and civets, suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 may not be especially adapted to ACE2 of any of its putative intermediate hosts. These analyses provide new insight into the receptor usage and animal source/origin of SARS-CoV-2.IMPORTANCE SARS-CoV-2 is threatening people worldwide, and there are no drugs or vaccines available to mitigate its spread. The origin of the virus is still unclear, and whether pets and livestock can be infected and transmit SARS-CoV-2 are important and unknown scientific questions. Effective binding to the host receptor ACE2 is the first prerequisite for infection of cells and determines the host range. Our analysis provides a framework for the prediction of potential hosts of SARS-CoV-2. We found that ACE2 from species known to support SARS-CoV-2 infection tolerate many amino acid changes, indicating that the species barrier might be low. Exceptions are dogs and especially pigs, which revealed relatively low ACE2 expression levels in the respiratory tract. Monitoring of animals is necessary to prevent the generation of a new coronavirus reservoir. Finally, our analysis also showed that SARS-CoV-2 may not be specifically adapted to any of its putative intermediate hosts.

Betacoronavirus/physiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virus Attachment , Animals , Animals, Domestic , Betacoronavirus/metabolism , Chiroptera/virology , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Dogs , Glycosylation , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Humans , Models, Animal , Pandemics , Pets , Pneumonia, Viral/metabolism , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , Raccoons/virology , Sequence Alignment , Sequence Analysis, Protein , Swine , Viverridae/virology
Trends Mol Med ; 26(5): 483-495, 2020 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-11922


The recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan turned into a public health emergency of international concern. With no antiviral drugs nor vaccines, and the presence of carriers without obvious symptoms, traditional public health intervention measures are significantly less effective. Here, we report the epidemiological and virological characteristics of the COVID-19 outbreak. Originated in bats, 2019-nCoV/ severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV)-2 likely experienced adaptive evolution in intermediate hosts before transfer to humans at a concentrated source of transmission. Similarities of receptor sequence binding to 2019-nCoV between humans and animals suggest a low species barrier for transmission of the virus to farm animals. We propose, based on the One Health model, that veterinarians and animal specialists should be involved in a cross-disciplinary collaboration in the fight against this epidemic.

Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/veterinary , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Animals , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Chiroptera/virology , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Humans , Interdisciplinary Communication , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Receptors, Virus/genetics