A complete sequence and comparative analysis of a SARS-associated virus (Isolate BJ01)
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The genome sequence of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-associated virus provides essential information for the identification of pathogen(s), exploration of etiology and evolution, interpretation of transmission and pathogenesis, development of diagnostics, prevention by future vaccination, and treatment by developing new drugs. We report the complete genome sequence and comparative analysis of an isolate (BJ01) of the coronavirus that has been recognized as a pathogen for SARS. The genome is 29725 nt in size and has 11 ORFs (Open Reading Frames). It is composed of a stable region encoding an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (composed of 2 ORFs) and a variable region representing 4 CDSs (coding sequences) for viral structural genes (the S, E, M, N proteins) and 5 PUPs (putative uncharacterized proteins). Its gene order is identical to that of other known coronaviruses. The sequence alignment with all known RNA viruses places this virus as a member in the family of Coronaviridae. Thirty putative substitutions have been identified by comparative analysis of the 5 SARS-associated virus genome sequences in GenBank. Fifteen of them lead to possible amino acid changes (non-synonymous mutations) in the proteins. Three amino acid changes, with predicted alteration of physical and chemical features, have been detected in the S protein that is postulated to be involved in the immunoreactions between the virus and its host. Two amino acid changes have been detected in the M protein, which could be related to viral envelope formation. Phylogenetic analysis suggests the possibility of non-human origin of the SARS-associated viruses but provides no evidence that they are man-made. Further efforts should focus on identifying the etiology of the SARS-associated virus and ruling out conclusively the existence of other possible SARS-related pathogen(s).
KeywordsSevere Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus genome phylogeny
putative uncharacterized protein
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