Researchers in the United States have discovered a shift in canine Coronavirus that may provide insight into how it spreads from animals to humans.
In 2017-18, a new canine coronavirus was discovered in two Malaysian human patients who developed pneumonia. Other researchers isolated and sequenced the canine coronavirus before publishing their findings in 2021.
A team led by Cornell and Temple University researchers in the United States has identified a pattern that occurs in the terminus of the canine coronavirus spike protein – the area of the virus that facilitates entry into a host cell. A
This pattern indicates that the virus progresses from infecting both the intestines and the respiratory system of the animal host to only infecting the respiratory system of a human host.
The researchers discovered a change in the terminus – known as the N terminus a” a region of the molecule with alterations also found in another coronavirus that spread from bats to humans and causes the common cold.
“This study identifies some of the molecular mechanisms underlying a host shift from dog coronavirus to a new human host, that may also be important in the circulation of a new human coronavirus that we previously didn’t know about,” said Michael Stanhope, Professor of public and ecosystem health at Cornell.A
The researchers used cutting-edge molecular evolution tools in the study, which was published in the journal Viruses, to assess how natural selection pressures may have influenced the evolution of the canine coronavirus.
The same canine coronavirus variant found in Malaysia was also found in a few people in Haiti in 2021, who also had respiratory illness.
More research is needed, according to Stanhope, to determine whether the viral shifts and jumps to humans occurred spontaneously in different parts of the world or if this coronavirus has been circulating in the human population for decades without detection.