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Civets SARS Genome Different From Genome of Human Virus

NEW YORK, Sept. 5 (GenomeWeb News) - A study published yesterday in the online edition of Science revealed a few significant sequence differences between the genome for the SARS coronavirus that infects humans, and the genome of the coronavirus infecting palm civets.


Palm civets - animals that are sold as exotic food in the marketplaces of the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, where SARS is believed to have originated - are the animals that scientists say may be the origin of the SARS outbreak that began in Guangzhou earlier this year.


Based on the discovery of deletions in the sequence of the human variant of the virus, the researchers who did the study determined that SARS likely jumped from animal to human, and not the other way around. Loss of DNA fragments is a common characteristic of animal-to-human mutations, according to Edison Liu, director of the Genome Institute of Singapore.