Preprint Brief Report Version 2 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV Share the Furin Site CGG-CGG Genetic Footprint

Version 1 : Received: 2 October 2021 / Approved: 5 October 2021 / Online: 5 October 2021 (11:26:34 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 12 October 2021 / Approved: 14 October 2021 / Online: 14 October 2021 (13:08:25 CEST)

How to cite: Romeu, A. R. SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV Share the Furin Site CGG-CGG Genetic Footprint. Preprints 2021, 2021100080. Romeu, A. R. SARS-CoV-2 and MERS-CoV Share the Furin Site CGG-CGG Genetic Footprint. Preprints 2021, 2021100080.


The SARS-CoV-2 polybasic furin cleavage site is still a missing link. Remarkably, the two arginine residues of this protease recognition site are encoded by the CGG codon, which is rare in Betacoronavirus. However, the arginine pair is common at viral furin cleavage sites, but are not CGG-CGG encoded. The question is: Is this genetic footprint unique to the SARS-CoV-2? To address the issue, using Perl scripts, here I dissect in detail the NCBI Virus database in order to report the arginine dimers of the Betacoronavirus proteins. The main result reveals that a group of Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) (isolates: camel/Nigeria/NVx/2016, host: Camelus dromedarius) also have the CGG-CGG arginine pair in the spike protein polybasic furin cleavage region. In addition, CGG-CGG encoded arginine pairs were found in the orf1ab polyprotein from HKU9 and HKU14 Betacoronavirus, as well as, in the nucleocapsid phosphoprotein from few SARS-CoV-2 isolates. To quantify the probability of finding the arginine CGG-CGG codon pair in Betacoronavirus, the likelihood ratio (LR) and a Markov model were defined. In conclusion, it is highly unlikely to find this genetic marker in betacoronaviruses wildlife, but they are there. Collectively, results shed light on recombination as origin of the virus CGG-CGG arginine pair in the S1/S2 cleavage site.

Supplementary and Associated Material


SARS-CoV-2; MERS-CoV; arginine dimer; polybasic furin cleavage site; aginine codon; Markov model; bioinformatics


Biology and Life Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 14 October 2021
Commenter: Antonio Ramón Romeu
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: Details of changes:
For clarity, paragraphs are separated with subheadings.
The MERS-CoV CGG-CGG arginine dimer is explained in more detail. A Figure is included (Figure 1).
The probability analysis also includes the likelihood ratio (LR).
New references have been introduced (8, 13, 14, 18, 20).
Summary has been updated, No significant changes.
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