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Novel Bat Alphacoronaviruses in Southern China Support Chinese Horseshoe Bats as an Important Reservoir for Potential Novel Coronaviruses

1
Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China
3
Carol Yu Centre for Infection, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China
4
Collaborative Innovation Centre for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China
5
Guangdong Key Laboratory of Animal Conservation and Resource Utilization, Guangdong Public Laboratory of Wild Animal Conservation and Utilization, Guangdong Institute of Applied Biological Resources, Guangzhou 510000, China
6
School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this manuscript.
Viruses 2019, 11(5), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/v11050423
Received: 15 April 2019 / Revised: 2 May 2019 / Accepted: 6 May 2019 / Published: 7 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses and Bats 2019)
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Abstract

While bats are increasingly recognized as a source of coronavirus epidemics, the diversity and emergence potential of bat coronaviruses remains to be fully understood. Among 1779 bat samples collected in China, diverse coronaviruses were detected in 32 samples from five different bat species by RT-PCR. Two novel alphacoronaviruses, Rhinolophus sinicus bat coronavirus HKU32 (Rs-BatCoV HKU32) and Tylonycteris robustula bat coronavirus HKU33 (Tr-BatCoV HKU33), were discovered from Chinese horseshoe bats in Hong Kong and greater bamboo bats in Guizhou Province, respectively. Genome analyses showed that Rs-BatCoV HKU32 is closely related to BatCoV HKU10 and related viruses from diverse bat families, whereas Tr-BatCoV HKU33 is closely related to BtNv-AlphaCoV and similar viruses exclusively from bats of Vespertilionidae family. The close relatedness of Rs-BatCoV HKU32 to BatCoV HKU10 which was also detected in Pomona roundleaf bats from the same country park suggests that these viruses may have the tendency of infecting genetically distant bat populations of close geographical proximity with subsequent genetic divergence. Moreover, the presence of SARSr-CoV ORF7a-like protein in Rs-BatCoV HKU32 suggests a common evolutionary origin of this accessory protein with SARS-CoV, also from Chinese horseshoe bats, an apparent reservoir for coronavirus epidemics. The emergence potential of Rs-BatCoV HKU32 should be explored.
Keywords: Alphacoronavirus; novel; bat; coronavirus; species; molecular; discovery; epidemics Alphacoronavirus; novel; bat; coronavirus; species; molecular; discovery; epidemics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Lau, S.K.; Wong, A.C.; Zhang, L.; Luk, H.K.; Kwok, J.S.L.; Ahmed, S.S.; Cai, J.-P.; Zhao, P.S.; Teng, J.L.; Tsui, S.K.; Yuen, K.-Y.; Woo, P.C.Y. Novel Bat Alphacoronaviruses in Southern China Support Chinese Horseshoe Bats as an Important Reservoir for Potential Novel Coronaviruses. Viruses 2019, 11, 423.

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