On the origin and evolution of SARS-CoV-2.

Experimental & Molecular Medicine
Devika Singh, Soojin V Yi


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for the ongoing global outbreak of a coronavirus disease (herein referred to as COVID-19). Other viruses in the same phylogenetic group have been responsible for previous regional outbreaks, including SARS and MERS. SARS-CoV-2 has a zoonotic origin, similar to the causative viruses of these previous outbreaks. The repetitive introduction of animal viruses into human populations resulting in disease outbreaks suggests that similar future epidemics are inevitable. Therefore, understanding the molecular origin and ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2 will provide critical insights for preparing for and preventing future outbreaks. A key feature of SARS-CoV-2 is its propensity for genetic recombination across host species boundaries. Consequently, the genome of SARS-CoV-2 harbors signatures of multiple recombination events, likely encompassing multiple species and broad geographic regions. Other regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome show the impact of purifying selection. The spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2, which enables the virus to enter host cells, exhibits signatures of both purifying selection and ancestral recombination events, leading to an effective S pr...Continue Reading


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