Composition and divergence of coronavirus spike proteins and host ACE2 receptors predict potential intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2

Journal of Medical Virology
Zhixin LiuLong Liu


From the beginning of 2002 and 2012, severe respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) crossed the species barriers to infect humans, causing thousands of infections and hundreds of deaths, respectively. Currently, a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which has become the cause of the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), was discovered. Until 18 February 2020, there were 72 533 confirmed COVID-19 cases (including 10 644 severe cases) and 1872 deaths in China. SARS-CoV-2 is spreading among the public and causing substantial burden due to its human-to-human transmission. However, the intermediate host of SARS-CoV-2 is still unclear. Finding the possible intermediate host of SARS-CoV-2 is imperative to prevent further spread of the epidemic. In this study, we used systematic comparison and analysis to predict the interaction between the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of coronavirus spike protein and the host receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The interaction between the key amino acids of S protein RBD and ACE2 indicated that, other than pangolins and snakes, as previously suggested, turtles (Chrysemys picta bellii, Chelonia mydas, and Pelodiscus s...Continue Reading


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