Certain species of bats have been known to harbor Ebola virus. According to a study led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU-Boulder) and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Ebola virus and bats have probably been at war with each other since 25 millions of years. Ebola virus infects the host cell by binding to a host cell receptor called NPC1. To understand how this happens, the researchers exposed cells from four types of African bats to various filoviruses, including Ebola virus. They found only one bat species could resist Ebola virus because its host cells had evolved, which effectively included a single amino acid change. However, some other filoviruses were able to infect these cells, hinting that some viruses had already developed a mechanism to counteract the bat cells’ resistance. A genetic analysis of NCP1 in 13 bat species by the researchers led them to conclude that the NPC1 receptor in bats has evolved far more rapidly than in any other animals – a result of “long-term co-evolutionary 'arms race' between bats and filoviruses.” This study will provide insights to researchers who are developing preventive treatments against Ebola virus.
Read more in Science Daily.