UPDATE – 2/9/2020 – IPAK HAS CONDUCTED FURTHER, IN-DEPTH STUDIES OF THE GENOMIC AN PROTEIN SEQUENCES OF THE 2019-nCoV CORONAVIRUSES AND THEIR RELATIVES AND HAVE COMPELLING RESULTS OF A KEY SIGNATURE USEFUL FOR IDENTIFYING A PARTICULARLY PATHOGENIC CORONAVIRUSES LINEAGE. GIVEN THAT WE HAVE FOUND THIS SIGNATURE, A FUNCTIONAL MOTIF FINGERPRINT, PRESENT IN THE HK-3 CoV FROM 2005, WE BELIEVE THIS EXONERATES RECOMBINATION IN THE LAB AS A SOURCE OF THE VIRUS. THIS DOES NOT EXONERATE ACCIDENTAL RELEASE, HOWEVER. WE ARE WORKING TO PUBLISH OUR FINDINGS.
Take a look at the stats on James Lyons-Weiler's site during Coronavirus outbreak. Hmmmm.
Molecular Epidemiology of Spike Protein Sequences in 2019-nCoV: Origin Still Uncertain and Transparency Needed
OUR INITIAL ASSESSMENT that the available 2019-nCoV sequences contained an inserted stretch of nucleotide sequences upstream from the canonical position of the Spike (or Crown) Protein Sequence in the human samples that was similar to pShuttle-SN has been under useful and productive scutiny since we first published that we, unlike other labs, were in fact able to find a match between the “middle fragment” and sequences in non-viridae databases. The match to a pShuttle-SN vector technology, which led to the assessment that perhaps the sequence was the product of an attempt to modifiy a bat coronavirus in the lab has raised controvery but please note that was not the only evidence of interest. We know of viruses within which the SARS protein gene sequence has in fact been added to study the transmission of SARS virus; it has also been added to adenovirus to create hopeful vaccine, so it is not beyond reason to consider whether the virus currently estimated to be infecting >200,000 people in China might be a product of laboratory manipulation, and the reporting of the odd out-of-place sequence in the study that proposed recombination was also important. The divergence of the nCoV Spike protein compared to the rest of nCoV and the bat coronaviruses was also compelling.
The specific mechanism by which those factors could come out is unclear. They could also been due to unwitting recombination in between a SARS virus being studied in a lab that was also studying or housing animals with bat coronaviruses. Or recombination in a human infected with both The scientific community ruled out the possibility of natural recombination in the wild, whereas I preferred to leave a 5% chance that it might have been caused by a recombination event in the wild. Importantly, I still have not ruled that out.
The official Chinese position in an article published by by Dr. Shi a “Chinese Academy of Sciences researcher in the field of bioinformatics” is that the viruses are too different in comparison to other bat coronaviruses across the genome, with random, non-patterned changes, and that there are no endonuclease sites in bat coronaviruses and thus pShuttle-SN or other endonuclease technologies could not have been used, supporting recombination in the wild. The latter statement is demonstrably incorrect, there are many endonuclease sites in bat coronavirus sequences, determined using a bat coronavirus most similar to the sequence clade in question (trees below). To read more, go join the "spike" here: Molecular Epidemiology of Spike Protein Sequences in 2019-nCoV: Origin Still Uncertain and Transparency Needed