Coronavirus disease – 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, due to severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), is posing a severe bio threat to the entire world. Nucleocapsids of SARS-CoV-2 and the related viruses were studied for gene and amino acid sequence homologies. In this study, we established similarities and differences in nucleocapsids in SARS-CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome – coronavirus-1 (SARS-CoV-1), bat coronavirus (bat-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome – coronavirus (MERS-CoV). We conducted a detailed analysis of the nucleocapsid protein amino acid and gene sequence encoding it, found in various coronavirus strains. After thoroughly screening the different nucleocapsids, we observed a close molecular homology between SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. More than 95% sequence similarity was observed between the two SARS-CoV strains. Bat-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 showed 92% sequence similarity. MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid analysis indicated only 65% identity. Molecular characterization of nucleocapsids from various coronaviruses revealed that SARS-CoV 2 is more related to SARS-CoV 1 and bat-CoV. SARS-CoV 2 exhibited less resemblance with MERS-CoV. SARS-CoV 2 showed less similarity to MERS-CoV. Thus, either SARS-CoV-1 or bat-CoV may be the source of SARS-CoV-2 evolution. Moreover, the existing differences in nucleocapsid molecular structures in SARS-CoV-2 make this virus more virulent and highly infectious, which means that the non-identical SARS-CoV-2 genes (which are absent in SARS-CoV-1 and bat-CoV) are responsible for COVID-19 severity. We observed that SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid from different locations varied in amino acid sequences. This revealed that there are many SARS-CoV-2 subtypes/subsets currently circulating globally. This study will help to develop antiviral vaccine and drugs, study viral replication and immunopathogenesis, and synthesize monoclonal antibodies that can be used for precise COVID-19 diagnosis, without false-positive/false-negative results.
SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1, Bat-CoV, MERS, Nucleocapsid (N) protein, COVID-19, Correlation, Virulence
Share This Article
© The Author(s) 2020. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License which permits unrestricted use, sharing, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided 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.