The genetic structure of SARS‐CoV‐2 does not rule out a laboratory origin

The new paper authored by Rossana Segreto from our Department and Yuri Deigin from Youthereum Genetics discusses how the genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a possible laboratory origin.
(Credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

The article discusses that two main genetic features of SARS‐CoV‐2 might be the result of lab manipulation techniques and cell/animal passage. These two features are (1) the presence of a furin cleavage site not present in other CoVs of the same group, and (2) a receptor binding domain of possible chimeric origin. The furin cleavage site confers the ability to infect organs usually invulnerable to CoVs of this group, whereas the receptor binding domain appears to be optimized for human cell infection. This analysis contrasts the general conclusion of a natural origin of the virus as supported by “The Proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2” published in Nature at the beginning of the pandemic outbreak.

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