• Evidence supporting a Zoonotic Origin of human coronavirus strain NL63

      Huynh, J.; Li, S.; Frieman, M.B. (2012)
      The relationship between bats and coronaviruses (CoVs) has received considerable attention since the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-like CoV was identified in the Chinese horseshoe bat (Rhinolophidae) in 2005. Since then, several bats throughout the world have been shown to shed CoV sequences, and presumably CoVs, in the feces; however, no bat CoVs have been isolated from nature. Moreover, there are very few bat cell lines or reagents available for investigating CoV replication in bat cells or for isolating bat CoVs adapted to specific bat species. Here, we show by molecular clock analysis that alphacoronavirus (α-CoV) sequences derived from the North American tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus) are predicted to share common ancestry with human CoV (HCoV)-NL63, with the most recent common ancestor between these viruses occurring approximately 563 to 822 years ago. Further, we developed immortalized bat cell lines from the lungs of this bat species to determine if these cells were capable of supporting infection with HCoVs. While SARS-CoV, mouse-adapted SARS-CoV (MA15), and chimeric SARS-CoVs bearing the spike genes of early human strains replicated inefficiently, HCoV-NL63 replicated for multiple passages in the immortalized lung cells from this bat species. These observations support the hypothesis that human CoVs are capable of establishing zoonotic-reverse zoonotic transmission cycles that may allow some CoVs to readily circulate and exchange genetic material between strains found in bats and other mammals, including humans.
    • The ORF4b-encoded accessory proteins of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus and two related bat coronaviruses localize to the nucleus and inhibit innate immune signalling

      Matthews, K.L.; Coleman, C.M.; Frieman, M.B. (Society for General Microbiology, 2014)
      The recently emerged Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), a betacoronavirus, is associated with severe pneumonia and renal failure. The environmental origin of MERS-CoV is as yet unknown; however, its genome sequence is closely related to those of two bat coronaviruses, named BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5, which were derived from Chinese bat samples. A hallmark of highly pathogenic respiratory viruses is their ability to evade the innate immune response of the host. CoV accessory proteins, for example those from severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV (SARS-CoV), have been shown to block innate antiviral signalling pathways. MERS-CoV, similar to SARS-CoV, has been shown to inhibit type I IFN induction in a variety of cell types in vitro. We therefore hypothesized that MERS-CoV and the phylogenetically related BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5 may encode proteins with similar capabilities. In this study, we have demonstrated that the ORF4b-encoded accessory protein (p4b) of MERS-CoV, BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5 may indeed facilitate innate immune evasion by inhibiting the type I IFN and NF-κB signalling pathways. We also analysed the subcellular localization of p4b from MERS-CoV, BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5 and demonstrated that all are localized to the nucleus.