The researchers were able to find new relatives of SARS-CoV2 in Javanese pangolins illegally imported to China. Metagenomic screening found two lines prolinnova of coronaviruses, which are included in the same group that previously found a virus of bats, and he RaTG13 SARS-CoV2. The key area of the S-protein, one of the lines is almost identical with those of the SARS-CoV2, the authors explain this parallel evolution or recombination. A Preprint appeared on the website biorxiv.org on February 18, but now the article is accepted for publication and available on the website Nature. Due to the need for rapid exchange of information on the subject COVID-19 this work has appeared in fast mode and may contain inaccuracies.
The scales of pangolins, despite protected status, actively used in Chinese medicine and the meat of these animals is prized in the local cuisine as a delicacy. Illegal imports of pangolins is massive — for example, we wrote about how Gorkovskoe customs arrested 8.3 tons scales of these animals. The study of the genomes of coronaviruses in the course of the pandemic COVID-19 gave reason to believe that massive traffic can be dangerous not only for the pangolin, but for the people. In the beginning of the epidemic, it was known that all the early patients COVID c-19 were connected with Wuhan market, and according to one version of the virus was recorded, together with some sold there wild, therefore pangolins were among the suspects.
In the fall of 2019, before the start of the epidemic came in an article devoted to the metagenomes 11 Javan pangolin (Manis javanica), which failed to qualify in Guangdong the Centre for wildlife rescue. It was one of the first studies of viral diversity pangolin, among other things, the researchers found they have the pieces of RNA, similar to the parainfluenza and coronaviruses.
Because of the epidemic COVID-19 these data have been raised and reviewed, and of them have tried to assemble a draft genome of the coronavirus pangolin. 7 Feb 2020 on the website of South China University appeared information that this coincides with the genome of SARS-CoV2 same 99%, but later, after the release of the Preprint 20 February, it became clear that hurry had been a misunderstanding. It turned out, it was not about the entire genome, but only about the key domain of the S protein and the genome as a whole coincide at 90.2 percent.
Scientists from Hong Kong University and Shantou University conducted an independent analysis of metagenomes Javanese pangolin. As the tissue samples they were using tissue 18 animals seized from illegal traders in 2017-2018 in the South of China in Guangxi. Sequencing RNA coronaviruses found five of them (six tissue samples). On the basis of genomic data, the authors have made an analogue of a laboratory test and checked out another 12 pangolin: three of them in tissues of the lung again found coronaviruses.
In addition, the authors found and collected the genome of the coronavirus from tissues of pangolins seized in a similar way in Guangdong in March 2019, and at the same time refurbished the consensus virus genome from the data for the September job. Just so they were 8 complete or nearly complete genomes of viruses: six — the number of samples from Guangxi and two from Guangdong.