Team finds footprint of coronavirus outbreak from 20K years ago

covid 07 20

A coronavirus epidemic broke out in the East Asia region more than 20,000 years ago, researchers report.

Traces of the outbreak are evident in the genetic makeup of people from that area, they’ve found.

The researchers analyzed the genomes of more than 2,500 modern humans from 26 worldwide populations, to better understand how humans have adapted to historical coronavirus outbreaks.

The team used computational methods to uncover genetic traces of adaptation to coronaviruses, the family of viruses responsible for three major outbreaks in the last 20 years, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past 20 years, there have been three outbreaks of epidemic severe coronaviruses: SARS-CoV leading to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which originated in China in 2002 and killed more than 800 people; MERS-CoV leading to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which killed more than 850 people; and SARS-CoV-2 leading to COVID-19, which has killed 3.8 million people.

But this study of the evolution of the human genome has revealed another large coronavirus epidemic broke out thousands of years earlier.

“It is like finding fossilized dinosaur footprints instead of finding fossilized bones directly,” says David Enard, a professor in the ecology and evolutionary biology department at the University of Arizona. “We did not find the ancient virus directly—instead we found signatures of the natural selection that it imposed on human genomes at the time of an ancient epidemic.”

Tracing the coronavirus outbreak

The team synthesized both human and SARS-CoV-2 proteins, without using living cells, and showed that these interacted directly and specifically pointed to the conserved nature of the mechanism coronaviruses use to invade cells.

Modern human genomes contain evolutionary information tracing back hundreds of thousands of years, including physiological and immunological adaptions that have enabled humans to survive new threats, including viruses.

The results revealed that the ancestors of East Asian people experienced an epidemic of a coronavirus-induced disease similar to COVID-19. East Asian people come from the area that is now China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan.

To invade cells, virus must attach and interact with specific proteins produced by the host cell known as viral interacting proteins, or VIPs. The researchers found signs of adaptation in 42 different human genes encoding VIPs, suggesting the ancestors of modern East Asians were first exposed to coronaviruses over 20,000 years ago.

“We found the 42 VIPs are primarily active in the lungs—the tissue most affected by coronaviruses—and confirmed that they interact directly with the virus underlying the current pandemic,” says first author Yassine Souilmi of the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences.

In addition to the VIPs, which are located on the surface of a host cell and used by coronaviruses to enter the cell, the viruses interact with many other cellular proteins once inside.

“We found that those human genes that code for proteins that either prevent or help the virus to multiply have experienced a lot more natural selection about 25,000 years ago than you would typically expect,” Enard says.

Telltale coronavirus genetic signals

The work shows that over the course of the epidemic, selection favored certain variants of human genes involved in the virus-cell interactions that could have led to a less severe disease. Studying the “tracks” left by ancient viruses can help researchers better understand how the genomes of different human populations adapted to viruses that have emerged as important drivers of human evolution.

Other independent studies have shown that mutations in VIP genes may mediate coronavirus susceptibility and also the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. And several VIPs are either currently being used in drug treatments for COVID-19 or are part of clinical trials for further drug development.

“Our past interactions with viruses have left telltale genetic signals that we can leverage to identify genes influencing infection and disease in modern populations, and can inform drug repurposing efforts and the development of new treatments,” says coauthor Ray Tobler from the University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences.

“By uncovering the genes previously impacted by historical viral outbreaks, our study points to the promise of evolutionary genetic analyses as a new tool in fighting the outbreaks of the future,” Souilmi says.

The study’s authors say their research could help identify viruses that have caused epidemics in the distant past and may do so in the future. Studies like theirs help researchers compile a list of potentially dangerous viruses and then develop diagnostics, vaccines, and drugs for the event of their return.

The paper appears in Current Biology.

Source: University of Arizona

About The Author

Daniel Stolte, University of Arizona


Recommended Books: Health

Fresh Fruit CleanseFresh Fruit Cleanse: Detox, Lose Weight and Restore Your Health with Nature's Most Delicious Foods [Paperback] by Leanne Hall.
Lose weight and feel vibrantly healthy while clearing your body of toxins. Fresh Fruit Cleanse offers everything you need for an easy and powerful detox, including day-by-day programs, mouth-watering recipes, and advice for transitioning off the cleanse.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Thrive FoodsThrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health [Paperback] by Brendan Brazier.
Building upon the stress-reducing, health-boosting nutritional philosophy introduced in his acclaimed vegan nutrition guide Thrive, professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier now turns his attention to your dinner plate (breakfast bowl and lunch tray too).
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Death by Medicine by Gary NullDeath by Medicine by Gary Null, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio and Carolyn Dean
The medical environment has become a labyrinth of interlocking corporate, hospital, and governmental boards of directors, infiltrated by the drug companies. The most toxic substances are often approved first, while milder and more natural alternatives are ignored for financial reasons. It's death by medicine.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


This article originally appeared on Futurity

 


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

More Articles By This Author

You May Also Like

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Marie T. Russell's Daily Inspiration

INNERSELF VOICES

Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want.
Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want
by Amy Fish
You need to have the courage to live life. This includes learn­ing to ask for what you need or…
full moon over a hot air balloon
Fear Unceasing or Life Abundant? Blue Moon Cycle in Aquarius
by Sarah Varcas
The period beginning with this first full moon (24 July 2021) and ending with the blue moon (22…
Horoscope Week: July 19 - 25, 2021
Horoscope Current Week: July 19 - 25, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
photo of stinging nettle flowers
Have You Talked to the Weeds in Your Garden Lately?
by Fay Johnstone
As an herbalist I have a very different view of weeds than the average gardener who can’t abide…
The Four Communication Rules and Violations, with an Emphasis on Listening
The Four Communication Rules and Violations, with an Emphasis on Listening
by Jude Bijou
I've found all good communication boils down to just four simple rules. Whether it's with our…
picture of a man writing on sheets of paper
Channeling As A Healing Tool and Its Impact On Grief
by Matthew McKay, PhD.
When my boy died, I had no belief that the dead could talk to us. At best, they seemed gone in…
Digital Distraction and Depression: The 21st Century Scourges
Digital Distraction and Depression: The 21st Century Scourges
by Amit Goswami, Ph.D.
We now have ever-expanding ways to distract and consume attention through the new digital opiate of…
holding up a mask of a man's face
Is There a Right Way of Interpreting Dreams?
by Serge Kahili King
When you give others the authority to interpret your dreams, you are buying in to their beliefs,…

MOST READ

hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil image of children
Death Denial: Is No News Good News?
by Margaret Coberly, Ph.D., R.N.
Most people are so strongly habituated to death denial that when death appears they are caught…
Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want.
Having The Courage To Live Life and Ask For What You Need Or Want
by Amy Fish
You need to have the courage to live life. This includes learn­ing to ask for what you need or…
Writing letters by hand is the best way to learn to read
Writing letters by hand is the best way to learn to read
by Jill Rosen, Johns Hopkins University
Handwriting helps people learn reading skills surprisingly faster and significantly better than…
test your creativity
Here's how to test your creativity potential
by Frederique Mazerolle, McGill University
A simple exercise of naming unrelated words and then measuring the semantic distance between them…
spraying for mosquito 07 20
This new pesticide-free clothing prevents 100% of mosquito bites
by Laura Oleniacz, NC State
New insecticide-free, mosquito-resistant clothing is made from materials researchers have confirmed…
holding up a mask of a man's face
Is There a Right Way of Interpreting Dreams? (Video)
by Serge Kahili King
When you give others the authority to interpret your dreams, you are buying in to their beliefs,…
Digital Distraction and Depression: The 21st Century Scourges
Digital Distraction and Depression: The 21st Century Scourges
by Amit Goswami, Ph.D.
We now have ever-expanding ways to distract and consume attention through the new digital opiate of…
photo of stinging nettle flowers
Have You Talked to the Weeds in Your Garden Lately?
by Fay Johnstone
As an herbalist I have a very different view of weeds than the average gardener who can’t abide…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.