ORF8-Related Genetic Evidence for Chinese Horseshoe Bats as the Source of Human Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus

Wu Zhiquiang
Li Yang
Xianwen Ren
Junpeng Zhang
Fan Yang
Shuyi Zhang
Qi Jin


Several lineage B betacoronaviruses termed severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)–like CoVs (SL-CoVs) were identified from Rhinolophus bats in China. These viruses are characterized by a set of unique accessory open reading frames (ORFs) that are located between the M and N genes. Among unique accessory ORFs, ORF8 is most hypervariable. In this study, the ORF8s of all SL-CoVs were classified into 3 types, and, for the first time, it was found that very few SL-CoVs from Rhinolophus sinicus have ORF8s that are identical to that of human SARS-CoV. This finding provides new genetic evidence for Chinese horseshoe bats as the source of human SARS-CoV.