Characterization of a New Member of Alphacoronavirus with Unique Genomic Features in Rhinolophus Bats.Viruses. 2019 04 24; 11(4)V
Bats have been identified as a natural reservoir of a variety of coronaviruses (CoVs). Several of them have caused diseases in humans and domestic animals by interspecies transmission. Considering the diversity of bat coronaviruses, bat species and populations, we expect to discover more bat CoVs through virus surveillance. In this study, we described a new member of alphaCoV (BtCoV/Rh/YN2012) in bats with unique genome features. Unique accessory genes, ORF4a and ORF4b were found between the spike gene and the envelope gene, while ORF8 gene was found downstream of the nucleocapsid gene. All the putative genes were further confirmed by reverse-transcription analyses. One unique gene at the 3' end of the BtCoV/Rh/YN2012 genome, ORF9, exhibits ~30% amino acid identity to ORF7a of the SARS-related coronavirus. Functional analysis showed ORF4a protein can activate IFN-β production, whereas ORF3a can regulate NF-κB production. We also screened the spike-mediated virus entry using the spike-pseudotyped retroviruses system, although failed to find any fully permissive cells. Our results expand the knowledge on the genetic diversity of bat coronaviruses. Continuous screening of bat viruses will help us further understand the important role played by bats in coronavirus evolution and transmission.