The prenylated form of the human 2′-5′-oligoadenylate synthetase 1 (OAS1) protein has been shown to potently inhibit the replication of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus responsible for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the OAS1 orthologue in the horseshoe bats (superfamily Rhinolophoidea), the reservoir host of SARS-related coronaviruses (SARSr-CoVs), has lost the prenylation signal required for this antiviral activity. Herein, we used an ancestral state reconstruction approach to predict and reconstitute in vitro, the most likely OAS1 protein sequence expressed by the Rhinolophoidea common ancestor prior to its prenylation loss (RhinoCA OAS1). We exogenously expressed the ancient bat protein in vitro to show that, unlike its non-prenylated horseshoe bat descendants, RhinoCA OAS1 successfully blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication. Using protein structure predictions in combination with evolutionary hypothesis testing methods, we highlight sites under unique diversifying selection specific to OAS1’s evolution in the Rhinolophoidea. These sites are located near the RNA-binding region and the C-terminal end of the protein where the prenylation signal would have been. Our results confirm that OAS1 prenylation loss at the base of the Rhinolophoidea clade ablated the ability of OAS1 to restrict SARSr-CoV replication and that subsequent evolution of the gene in these bats likely favoured an alternative function. These findings can advance our understanding of the tightly linked association between SARSr-CoVs and horseshoe bats.


© 2023 Lytras et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Lytras, S., Wickenhagen, A., Sugrue, E., Stewart, D., Swingler, S., Sims, A., Jackson Ireland, H., Davies, E., Ludlam, E., Li, Z., Hughes, J. & Wilson, S. 2023, 'Resurrection of 2′-5′-oligoadenylate synthetase 1 (OAS1) from the ancestor of modern horseshoe bats blocks SARS-CoV-2 replication', PloS Biology, 21(11), article no: e3002398. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3002398

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Last updated: 04 December 2023
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