Genetic diversity of MERS-CoV spike protein gene in Saudi Arabia.J Infect Public Health. 2020 May; 13(5):709-717.JI
Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was primarily detected in 2012 and still causing disease in human and camel. Camel and bats have been identified as a potential source of virus for disease spread to human. Although, significant information related to MERS-CoV disease, spread, infection, epidemiology, clinical features have been published, A little information is available on the sequence diversity of Spike protein gene. The Spike protein gene plays a significant role in virus attachment to host cells. Recently, the information about recombinant MERS-CoV has been published. So, this work was designed to identify the emergence of any another recombinant virus in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
In this study samples were collected from both human and camels and the Spike protein gene was amplified and sequenced. The nucleotide and amino acid sequences of MERS-CoV Spike protein gene were used to analyze the recombination, genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationship with selected sequences from Saudi Arabia.
The nucleotide sequence identity ranged from 65.7% to 99.8% among all the samples collected from human and camels from various locations in the Kingdom. The lowest similarity (65.7%) was observed in samples from Madinah and Dammam. The phylogenetic relationship formed different clusters with multiple isolates from various locations. The sample collected from human in Jeddah hospital formed a closed cluster with human samples collected from Buraydah, while camel sample formed a closed cluster with Hufuf isolates. The phylogenetic tree by using Aminoacid sequences formed closed cluster with Dammam, Makkah and Duba isolates. The amino acid sequences variations were observed in 28/35 samples and two unique amino acid sequences variations were observed in all samples analyzed while total 19 nucleotides sequences variations were observed in the Spike protein gene. The minor recombination events were identified in eight different sequences at various hotspots in both human and camel samples using recombination detection programme.
The generated information from this study is very valuable and it will be used to design and develop therapeutic compounds and vaccine to control the MERS-CoV disease spread in not only in the Kingdom but also globally.