Potential pathogens similar to the pandemic coronavirus are circulating among bats in the southern Krasnodar Territory of Russia near Ukraine. This is the conclusion reached by the scientists of the Center. Hamaleas in the Russian Federation by checking the feces and swabs from the oral cavity of the large (R. ferrumequinum) and small (R. hipposideros) horseshoe bats.
“We have discovered and genetically described two new SARS-like coronaviruses – Hosta-1 and Hosta-2,” the researchers from the institute, which developed the Sputnik V vaccine, write in a preprint on bioRxiv.
Most SARS-like coronaviruses in bats are unable to bind to ACE2 on human cells and therefore do not infect them. But recently, several strains have been discovered in Chinese horseshoe bats that can use this receptor and whose proteins are very similar to SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-2. It is believed that the “progenitors” of the latter arose after recombination between bats coronaviruses.
Russian biologists have reported “evidence of recombination” in the evolutionary history of Hosta-1, as a result of which the virus acquired the structural proteins S, E, and M, as well as the non-structural genes ORF3, ORF6, ORF7a, and ORF7b from the virus, which is closer to the Kenyan strain than to European.
“It can be assumed that the genetic diversity of viruses in the region is much higher than known, and there is a constant exchange of genes between them. This requires further study with special emphasis on the diversity of the S gene,” the authors write, referring to the gene that encodes the S protein , due to which the virus can infect a person.