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Virology. 2007 Oct 25;367(2):428-39. Epub 2007 Jul 6.

Complete genome sequence of bat coronavirus HKU2 from Chinese horseshoe bats revealed a much smaller spike gene with a different evolutionary lineage from the rest of the genome.

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State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Hong Kong.


Apart from bat-SARS-CoV, we have identified a novel group 1 coronavirus, bat-CoV HKU2, in Rhinolophus sinicus (Chinese horseshoe bats). Since it has been suggested that the receptor-binding motif (RBM) of SARS-CoV may have been acquired from a group 1 coronavirus, we conducted a surveillance study and identified bat-SARS-CoV and bat-CoV HKU2 in 8.7% and 7.5% respectively of R. sinicus in Hong Kong and Guangdong. Complete genome sequencing of four strains of bat-CoV HKU2 revealed the smallest coronavirus genome (27164 nucleotides) and a unique spike protein evolutionarily distinct from the rest of the genome. This spike protein, sharing similar deletions with other group 2 coronaviruses in its C-terminus, also contained a 15-amino acid peptide homologous to a corresponding peptide within the RBM of spike protein of SARS-CoV, which was absent in other coronaviruses except bat-SARS-CoV. These suggest a common evolutionary origin in the spike protein of bat-CoV HKU2, bat-SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV.

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