Science & Technology

The evolution of animal viruses has the potential to reveal the future of COVID-19. – Science Inquirer

When animals catch COVID-19 from humans, new SARS-CoV-2 mutants may develop. To assess this phenomenon, an interdisciplinary team from the Faculty of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences systematically analyzed the types of mutations that occur in the virus after infection in cats, dogs, ferrets, and hamsters.

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Cases of COVID-19 identified in various wildlife, zoos and livestock show cross-species transmission, which is a rare outbreak for most viruses.

“In the area of ​​coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 has a very wide range of species,” said Laura Bashor, one of the first authors of microbiology, immunology, and pathology and a PhD student. I am saying. “Generally speaking, many types of viruses cannot infect other species of animals and have evolved very specifically.”


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Eric Gagne, lead author at the University of Pennsylvania and now an assistant professor of wildlife disease ecology, said:

The worldwide spread and spread of the virus has given researchers a unique opportunity to investigate the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the laboratory at Sue VandeWoud University in Colorado State University.

These experts in the transmission of diseases in wild and domestic cats have applied their experience in sequence analysis and genomic collection studies to SARS-CoV-2. the study It was recently published in PNAS, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences.

New mutation

Researchers in the VandeWoude lab collaborate with Assistant Professor Angela Bosco-Laut and Professor Dick Bowen of the Department of Biomedical Sciences to develop tests for SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility of animal species using animal modeling expertise. Did.

Also, the key to the findings was new viral sequencing techniques at various stages of the study, which are now common in detecting mutations in the human population. Mark Stenglein, an associate professor of microbiology, immunology, and pathology, provided his research with computational skills for analyzing biomolecular sequences known as bioinformatics.

“We have discovered that there has been evolution, that virus selection has been seen, and that many variants have emerged in the genomic sequence of the virus,” Bashor said.

To provide sufficient viral material for the study, Bosco-Lauth and Bowen cultured SARS-CoV-2 human samples in laboratory-grown cells. Bashor and Gagne determined that at each step in this process, multiple mutations occur, making up a larger proportion of the genetic population.

The virus was then introduced into four households and samples of the virus were collected from the nasal passages after infection.

“In animals, cell culture variants have returned to their original human form, indicating that they are likely to be adapted to the cell culture and environment selected for them.” Gagne said.

Not all of these mutations in the cell culture SARS-CoV-2 mutant have been transferred to the new host. Instead, various mutations appeared in the virus shed by living animals.

The first virus sample of the study was isolated in early 2020. The team then observed mutations that formed a widespread SARS-CoV-2 strain in the human population at an accelerated rate throughout the study.

“Some of them were found in humans in alpha, beta, and delta variants,” said senior author Dr. Sue Vandood. “There was a specific genetic code change that mimicked what other scientists reported to people.”

Contact exposure between two cats has shown that the SARS-CoV-2 mutant may be transmitted with the potential to spawn new strains within the species.

“That’s what we see in people,” Bosco-Lauth said. “Hosts that are very well adapted to support SARS-CoV-2 infection are also very good at allowing these mutations to settle and be inherited.”

future

Basher did not anticipate SARS-CoV-2 research when he came to CSU to begin his PhD during a pandemic. However, it has provided a unique opportunity to steadily carry out as a graduate student in a “really cool and viable project” in disease ecology and evolution.

When the team began the SARS-CoV-2 study, Gagne had completed a postdoctoral fellow on cross-species transmission of the cat retrovirus in the Vande Woude lab. He is currently an assistant professor and continues to investigate SARS-CoV-2 spillovers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Futures Program.

According to Vande Woude, graduate students and early career scientists such as Bashor and Gagne have made significant contributions to the study of SARS-CoV-2.

The team continued its investigation with a focus on cats. This is because cats are highly susceptible to leakage of COVID-19 from humans and can develop variants of the virus and spread to other cats.

Bashor has begun analyzing SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences from large pools of cat breeds around the world, including tigers, lions and snow leopards. Publicly available data on infected cats may provide additional insights into the adaptability and variability of COVID-19 within and between cat breeds.

There is no evidence of transmission from cats to humans. However, cats continue to be susceptible to all variants of the population’s COVID-19.

By understanding the evolution of the cat virus, the research team can find answers to the following questions: What is the future of SARS-CoV-2 for humans and animals?

Image Credit: Colorado State University



The evolution of animal viruses has the potential to reveal the future of COVID-19. – Science Inquirer

https://scientificinquirer.com/2021/12/06/viral-evolution-in-animals-could-reveal-future-of-covid-19/ The evolution of animal viruses has the potential to reveal the future of COVID-19. – Science Inquirer

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