Author(s): Cui J, Eden JS, Holmes EC, Wang LF
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Abstract BACKGROUND: The newly emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that first appeared in Saudi Arabia during the summer of 2012 has to date (20th September 2013) caused 58 human deaths. MERS-CoV utilizes the dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) host cell receptor, and analysis of the long-term interaction between virus and receptor provides key information on the evolutionary events that lead to the viral emergence. FINDINGS: We show that bat DPP4 genes have been subject to significant adaptive evolution, suggestive of a long-term arms-race between bats and MERS related CoVs. In particular, we identify three positively selected residues in DPP4 that directly interact with the viral surface glycoprotein. CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that the evolutionary lineage leading to MERS-CoV may have circulated in bats for a substantial time period.
This article was published in Virol J
and referenced in Virology & Mycology