Genomic screening of 16 UK native bat species through conservationist networks uncovers coronaviruses with zoonotic potential

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Title: Genomic screening of 16 UK native bat species through conservationist networks uncovers coronaviruses with zoonotic potential
Authors: Tan, C
Trew, J
Peacock, T
Mok, KY
Hart, C
Lau, K
Ni, D
Orme, CDL
Ransome, E
Pearse, W
Coleman, C
Bailey, D
Thakur, N
Quantrill, J
Sukhova, K
Richard, D
Kahane, L
Woodward, G
Bell, T
Worledge, L
Nunez-Mino, J
Barclay, W
Van Dorp, L
Balloux, F
Savolainen, V
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: There has been limited characterisation of bat-borne coronaviruses in Europe. Here, we screened for coronaviruses in 48 faecal samples from 16 of the 17 bat species breeding in the UK, collected through a bat rehabilitation and conservationist network. We recovered nine (two novel) complete genomes across six bat species: four alphacoronaviruses, a MERS-related betacoronavirus, and four closely related sarbecoviruses. We demonstrate that at least one of these sarbecoviruses can bind and use the human ACE2 receptor for infecting human cells, albeit suboptimally. Additionally, the spike proteins of these sarbecoviruses possess an R-A-K-Q motif, which lies only one nucleotide mutation away from a furin cleavage site (FCS) that enhances infectivity in other coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. However, mutating this motif to an FCS does not enable spike cleavage. Overall, while UK sarbecoviruses would require further molecular adaptations to infect humans, their zoonotic risk is unknown and warrants closer surveillance.
Issue Date: 27-Jun-2023
Date of Acceptance: 5-May-2023
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-38717-w
ISSN: 2041-1723
Publisher: Nature Portfolio
Start Page: 1
End Page: 13
Journal / Book Title: Nature Communications
Volume: 14
Copyright Statement: © The Author(s) 2023. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 3322
Online Publication Date: 2023-06-27
Appears in Collections:Department of Infectious Diseases
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Natural Sciences

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