[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was averted in 2004, many novel coronaviruses have been recognized from different species, including humans. Bats have provided the most diverse assemblages of coronaviruses, suggesting that they may be the natural reservoir. Continued virological surveillance has proven to be the best way to avert this infectious disease at the source. Here we provide the first description of a previously unidentified coronavirus lineage detected from wild Asian leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) and Chinese ferret badgers (Melogale moschata) during virological surveillance in southern China. Partial genome analysis revealed a typical coronavirus genome but with a unique putative accessory gene organization. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that the envelope, membrane, and nucleoprotein structural proteins and the two conserved replicase domains, putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and RNA helicase, of these novel coronaviruses were most closely related to those of group 3 coronaviruses identified from birds, while the spike protein gene was most closely related to that of group 1 coronaviruses from mammals. However, these viruses always fell into an outgroup phylogenetic relationship with respect to other coronaviruses and had low amino acid similarity to all known coronavirus groups, indicating that they diverged early in the evolutionary history of coronaviruses. These results suggest that these viruses may represent a previously unrecognized evolutionary pathway, or possibly an unidentified coronavirus group. This study demonstrates the importance of systematic virological surveillance in market animals for understanding the evolution and emergence of viruses with infectious potential.
Journal of Virology 08/2007; 81(13):6920-6. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Coronaviruses can infect a variety of animals including poultry, livestock, and humans and are currently classified into three groups. The interspecies transmissions of coronaviruses between different hosts form a complex ecosystem of which little is known. The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the recent identification of new coronaviruses have highlighted the necessity for further investigation of coronavirus ecology, in particular the role of bats and other wild animals. In this study, we sampled bat populations in 15 provinces of China and reveal that approximately 6.5% of the bats, from diverse species distributed throughout the region, harbor coronaviruses. Full genomes of four coronavirues from bats were sequenced and analyzed. Phylogenetic analyses of the spike, envelope, membrane, and nucleoprotein structural proteins and the two conserved replicase domains, putative RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and RNA helicase, revealed that bat coronaviruses cluster in three different groups: group 1, another group that includes all SARS and SARS-like coronaviruses (putative group 4), and an independent bat coronavirus group (putative group 5). Further genetic analyses showed that different species of bats maintain coronaviruses from different groups and that a single bat species from different geographic locations supports similar coronaviruses. Thus, the findings of this study suggest that bats may play an integral role in the ecology and evolution of coronaviruses.
Journal of Virology 09/2006; 80(15):7481-90. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus has become endemic in poultry in southeast Asia since 2003 and constitutes a major pandemic threat to humans. Here we describe cases of disease caused by H5N1 and transmission of the virus among migratory geese populations in western China. This outbreak may help to spread the virus over and beyond the Himalayas and has important implications for developing control strategies.