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The recent ancestry of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in…

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The recent ancestry of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in Korea has been shaped by recombination.

Kim JI1, Kim YJ2, Lemey P3, Lee I1, Park S1, Bae JY1, Kim D1, Kim H1, Jang SI1, Yang JS2, Kim H2, Kim DW4, Nam JG2, Kim SS2, Kim K5, Myun Lee J6,7, Song MK8,7, Song D9,7, Chang J10,7, Hong KJ11,7, Bae YS12,7, Song JW1, Lee JS13, Park MS1,7.



Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) causes severe cases of human respiratory disease. Since 2012, the victims have mainly come from the Middle East countries or sporadically from some other geographical regions seeded by the travelers who visited the Middle East. Such an introduction through travelling led to the emergence of a MERS-CoV outbreak in Korea in May 2015, which caused more than 140 confirmed human cases in less than a month. Using 70 complete genome sequences of MERS-CoV isolates, including the most recent sequences for the Korean and Chinese isolates, we reconstructed the phylogenetic relationships of the complete genome and the individual protein coding regions. The Korean MERS-CoV strain clustered in the previously established Hafr-Al-Batin-1_2013 clade together with two Saudi Arabian and one Chinese strain sampled in 2015. Although these four strains remained monophyletic in the entire protein-coding region, this clade showed different phylogenetic relationships across the genome, indicating a shared unique recombination pattern that is different from previously reported putative recombination strains. Our findings suggest that the recent ancestor of the Korean and its related MERS-CoV strains is characterized by unique mosaic genome pattern that is different from other putative recombinants.



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