Viral CpG deficiency provides no evidence that dogs were intermediate hosts for SARS-CoV-2

Pollock, D. D. et al. (2020) Viral CpG deficiency provides no evidence that dogs were intermediate hosts for SARS-CoV-2. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 37(9), pp. 2706-2710. (doi: 10.1093/molbev/msaa178) (PMID:32658964) (PMCID:PMC7454803)

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Abstract Due to the scope and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic there exists a strong desire to understand where the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from and how it jumped species boundaries to humans. Molecular evolutionary analyses can trace viral origins by establishing relatedness and divergence times of viruses and identifying past selective pressures. However, we must uphold rigorous standards of inference and interpretation on this topic because of the ramifications of being wrong. Here, we dispute the conclusions of Xia (2020) that dogs are a likely intermediate host of a SARS-CoV-2 ancestor. We highlight major flaws in Xia’s inference process and his analysis of CpG deficiencies, and conclude that there is no direct evidence for the role of dogs as intermediate hosts. Bats and pangolins currently have the greatest support as ancestral hosts of SARS-CoV-2, with the strong caveat that sampling of wildlife species for coronaviruses has been limited.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:D.D.P., T.A.C., and E.L.C. are funded by NIH (1R01AI134673); D.D.P. is also funded by NIH GM083127; T.A.C. is also funded by National Science Foundation (DEB-1655571, IOS-1655735); E.C.H. is funded by an ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship (FL170100022); S.L. and D.L.R. are funded by the MRC (MC_UU_12014/12); and J.W. is supported by The Alborada Trust.
Keywords:Genetics, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics, Molecular Biology
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Robertson, Professor David
Authors: Pollock, D. D., Castoe, T. A., Perry, B. W., Lytras, S., Wade, K. J., Robertson, D. L., Holmes, E. C., Boni, M. F., Kosakovsky Pond, S. L., Parry, R., Carlton, E. J., Wood, J. L.N., Pennings, P. S., and Goldstein, R. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:Molecular Biology and Evolution
Publisher:Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution
ISSN (Online):1537-1719
Published Online:13 July 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Author(s)
First Published:First published in Molecular Biology and Evolution 37(9):2706–2710
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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