Friday, 18 October 2013

Cute little hedgehogs get CoVs too?

Corman and colleagues from the University of Bonn Medical Centre (clearly not just for human medicine!) have found a proposed new species of coronavirus (CoV) they've assigned to the Genus Betacoronavirus clade C. The new virus is called erinaceus CoV (EriCoV). It inhabits the same clade  that houses the MERS-CoV, but it is not as closely related as are batCoVs and MERS-CoV.

The authors, writing in the Journal of Virology, thought that searching in an order of insectivorous animals, the Order Eulipotyphla, might yield results since most CoV-positive bats (Order Chiroptera) are insectivorous. 

Two of 146 (58.9% of 248 samples were tested  positive sample were targeted for genome sequencing using next generation (454) and conventional PCR sequencing technology, from European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Virus was not isolated in cell culture using Vero, pipistrellus bat or shrew (same Order) cells making it less promiscuous in culture than MERS-CoV. Also, it probably uses a different receptor. No sign of disease could be discerned.

With GenBank recovering from being shuttered, it might be a while until the sequences are publicly available.