[Source: Journal of Virology, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]
Diversity of dromedary camel coronavirus HKU23 in African camels revealed multiple recombination events among closely related Betacoronaviruses of the subgenus Embecovirus.
Ray T. Y. So, Daniel K. W. Chu, Eve Miguel, Ranawaka A. P. M. Perera, Jamiu O. Oladipo, Ouafaa Fassi-Fihri, Gelagay Aylet, Ronald L. W. Ko, Ziqi Zhou, Mo-Sheung Cheng, Sulyman A. Kuranga, François L. Roger, Veronique Chevalier, Richard J. Webby, Patrick C. Y. Woo, Leo L. M. Poon, Malik Peiris
Genetic recombination has frequently been observed in coronaviruses. Here, we sequenced multiple complete genomes of dromedary camel coronavirus HKU23 (DcCoV-HKU23) from Nigeria, Morocco and Ethiopia and identified several genomic positions indicative of cross species virus recombination events among other Betacoronaviruses of the subgenus Embecovirus (clade A β-CoVs). Recombinant fragments of a rabbit coronavirus (RbCoV-HKU14) were identified at the hemagglutinin esterase gene position. Homolog fragments of a rodent CoV were also observed at the 8.9 kDa open reading frame 4a at the 3′ end of the spike gene. The patterns of recombination varied geographically across the African region, highlighting a mosaic structure of DcCoV-HKU23 genomes circulating in dromedaries. Our results highlighted active recombination of coronaviruses circulating in dromedaries and is also relevant to the emergence and evolution of other Betacoronaviruses including MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
Genetic recombination is often demonstrated in coronaviruses and can result in host range expansion or alteration in tissue tropism. Here, we showed interspecies recombination events of an endemic dromedary camel coronavirus HKU23 with other clade A Betacoronaviruses. Our results supported the possibility that the zoonotic pathogen, MERS-CoV, which also co-circulates in the same camel species, may have undergone similar recombination events facilitating its emergence or may do so in its future evolution.
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Keywords: Coronavirus; Betacoronavirus; Embecovirus; MERS-CoV; Camels; Africa Region; Recombination.