Preprint Short Note Version 3 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Anomalous Nature of the Fecal Swab Data, Receptor Binding Domain and Other Questions in RaTG13 Genome

Version 1 : Received: 7 August 2020 / Approved: 8 August 2020 / Online: 8 August 2020 (06:19:45 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 8 August 2020 / Approved: 11 August 2020 / Online: 11 August 2020 (08:06:32 CEST)
Version 3 : Received: 4 October 2020 / Approved: 5 October 2020 / Online: 5 October 2020 (12:20:17 CEST)

How to cite: Rahalkar, M.; Bahulikar, R. The Anomalous Nature of the Fecal Swab Data, Receptor Binding Domain and Other Questions in RaTG13 Genome . Preprints 2020, 2020080205 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202008.0205.v3). Rahalkar, M.; Bahulikar, R. The Anomalous Nature of the Fecal Swab Data, Receptor Binding Domain and Other Questions in RaTG13 Genome . Preprints 2020, 2020080205 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202008.0205.v3).

Abstract

RaTG13 (a bat derived SARS-like CoV) is the closest relative sequence of SARS-CoV-2 reported till date. The sample from which RaTG13 was sequenced was a bat fecal swab collected in 2013 from Tongguan, Mojiang, Yunnan province, China. The Illumina based sequence of RaTG13, MN996532.1, was deposited on 27th Jan 2020 and the raw data (Illumina), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sra/SRX7724752[accn]. There are discrepancies in dates about when the metagenome sequencing of RaTG13 sample was done (2018 or 2020), both stated by the same corresponding author. Comparison of the RNA Seq data of RaTG13 fecal swab to the corresponding data from the bat fecal swabs deposited by the same working group using the same methods indicated that the RaTG13 raw data seemed to be different in various aspects. The fecal swab sample showed abnormally less read of bacterial reads in the swab was exceptionally low, i.e. 0.7%, compared to the 20-90% abundance in other fecal swabs from bats processed by similar methods. Also, another raw data in the form of amplicon sequences was deposited in May 2020; however, the dates mentioned on the files of the sequenced amplicons were older (2017, 2018). The genome assembly of RaTG13 could not be done de-novo and the average coverage of the genome ~8%. Also, literature indicates that RaTG13 RBD cannot bind to Rhinolophus ACE-2 receptors. Collectively, the anomalies in the raw data of RaTG13 and other issues pose an important question about the overall authenticity of the RaTG13 genome sequence.

Subject Areas

RaTG13; SARS-COV-2; Illumina sequencing, amplicon sequencing, NGS; fecal swab

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 5 October 2020
Commenter: Monali Rahalkar
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: This is a follow up version with a few changes in the content and a few additions according to recent literature and have updated the blast information.
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