This version is not peer-reviewed
Understanding the Origin of ‘BatCoVRaTG13’, a Virus Closest to SARS-CoV-2
: Received: 19 May 2020 / Approved: 20 May 2020 / Online: 20 May 2020 (07:08:38 CEST)
: Received: 24 May 2020 / Approved: 24 May 2020 / Online: 24 May 2020 (20:02:22 CEST)
A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.
Journal reference: Front. Public Health 2020
Genomic analysis indicates that SARS-CoV-2 is most related to RaTG13, a beta corona virus derived from bats by 96% 1. At present, RaTG13 is only available on the public database in the form of a genome sequence. The genome of RaTG13 (MN996532.1) was sequenced from the RNA of a bat faecal swab collected in 2013 from Yunnan, China, however the exact location is not mentioned. Since RaTG13 is one of the main supports for SARS-CoV-2 to have a natural origin, it is of utmost importance to understand the sample location. RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) sequence of RaTG13 shows that it is 100% similar to that of bat corona virus BtCoV/4991 and 98.7-98.9% similar to SARS-CoV-2 RdRp 2. BtCoV/4991 was described to be a SARS-like (SL-) corona virus from bat faeces sampled in an abandoned mine from Mojiang 2. Both the publications 1,2 are authored by Dr. Zheng-li Shi (Z-L Shi), who is described as the bat woman of China 3. However, BtCoV/4991 has not been mentioned by Zhou et al 2020 1 where novel corona virus was first described. Based on the RdRp sequence similarities, similarities in sample collection dates, sample locations, and the fact that RaTG13 is mentioned synonymous to BtCoV/4991 on the Chinese bat database, it is predicted that RaTG13 and BtCoV/4991 originate from the same sample. The sample, bat faecal swab was collected in 2013 from an abandoned mineshaft in Mojiang by Dr. Shi and her work group. In 2012, in a Mojiang mineshaft, six mine workers suffered from atypical pneumonia and three of them died. These workers were engaged in the work of clearing debris from a mineshaft which had a lot of bats and bat faeces 3,4. A detailed health investigation indicated that the miners suffered from atypical pneumonia mostly of the viral origin 4. Therefore, in the light of the present Covid-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2, the fact that its phylogenetic neighbour RaTG13 originated from bat faeces collected from a mineshaft, which was also the origin of pneumonia-like disease in miners in 2012, should be noted.
SARS-CoV-2; RATG13; BtCoV/4991; SARS-like (SL-) corona virus; pneumonia
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