Amplicon and metagenomic analysis of MERS-CoV and the microbiome in patients with severe Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
Abbie J Harrison,
Bader Y. Alhatlani,
Natasha J Rickett,
Maaweya E. Hamed,
Miles W Carroll,
James P Stewart,
David A Matthews,
Andrew D Davidson,
Julian Alexander Hiscox
Posted 29 Nov 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.28.400671
Posted 29 Nov 2020
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS CoV) is a zoonotic infection that emerged in the Middle East in 2012. Symptoms range from mild to severe and include both respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses. The virus is mainly present in camel populations with occasional spill overs into humans. The severity of infection in humans is influenced by numerous factors and similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS CoV 2) underlying health complications can play a major role. Currently, MERS CoV and SARS CoV 2 are co-incident in the Middle East and a rapid way is required of sequencing MERS-CoV to derive genotype information for molecular epidemiology. Additionally, complicating factors in MERS-CoV infections are co-infections that require clinical management. The ability to rapidly characterise these infections would be advantageous. To rapidly sequence MERS CoV, we developed an amplicon-based approach coupled to Oxford Nanopore long read length sequencing. The advantage of this approach is that insertions and deletions can be identified which are the major drivers of genotype change in coronaviruses. This and a metagenomic approach were evaluated on clinical samples from patients with MERS. The data illustrated that whole genome or near whole genome information on MERS CoV could be rapidly obtained. This approach provided data on both consensus genomes and the presence of minor variants including deletion mutants. Whereas, the metagenomic analysis provided information of the background microbiome.
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