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Published in Nature - 16 Feb 2022

Temmam S, Vongphayloth K, Salazar EB, Munier S, Bonomi M, Regnault B, Douangboubpha B, Karami Y, Chrétien D, Sanamxay D, Xayaphet V, Paphaphanh P, Lacoste V, Somlor S, Lakeomany K, Phommavanh N, Pérot P, Dehan O, Amara F, Donati F, Bigot T, Nilges M, Rey FA, van der Werf S, Brey PT, Eloit M,

Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 35172323

Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41586-022-04532-4

Nature 2022 604, 330–336

The animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 is unknown despite reports of various SARS-CoV-2-related viruses in Asian Rhinolophus bats1-4, including the closest virus from R. affinis, RaTG135,6 and in pangolins7-9. SARS-CoV-2 presents a mosaic genome, to which different progenitors contribute. The spike sequence determines the binding affinity and accessibility of its receptor-binding domain (RBD) to the cellular angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor and is responsible for host range10-12. SARS-CoV-2 progenitor bat viruses genetically close to SARS-CoV-2 and able to enter human cells through a human ACE2 pathway have not yet been identified, though they would be key in understanding the origin of the epidemics. Here we show that such viruses indeed circulate in cave bats living in the limestone karstic terrain in North Laos, within the Indochinese peninsula. We found that the RBDs of these viruses differ from that of SARS-CoV-2 by only one or two residues at the interface with ACE2, bind more efficiently to the hACE2 protein than the SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan strain isolated in early human cases, and mediate hACE2-dependent entry and replication in human cells, which is inhibited by antibodies neutralizing SARS-CoV-2. None of these bat viruses harbors a furin cleavage site in the spike. Our findings therefore indicate that bat-borne SARS-CoV-2-like viruses potentially infectious for humans circulate in Rhinolophus spp. in the Indochinese peninsula.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35172323