ORF8-related genetic evidence for Chinese horseshoe bats as the source of human Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus
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.