Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerging zoonotic virus considered as one of the major public threat with a total number of 2 298 laboratory-confirmed cases and 811 associated deaths reported by World Health Organization as of January 2019. The transmission of the virus was expected to be from the camels found in Middle Eastern countries via the animal and human interaction. The genome structure provided information about the pathogenicity and associated virulent factors present in the virus. Recent studies suggested that there were limited insight available on the development of novel therapeutic strategies to induce immunity against the virus. The severities of MERS-CoV infection highlight the necessity of effective approaches for the development of various therapeutic remedies. Thus, the present review comprehensively and critically illustrates the recent aspects on the epidemiology of the virus, the structural and functional features of the viral genome, viral entry and transmission, major mechanisms of pathogenesis and associated virulent factors, current animal models, detection methods and novel strategies for the development of vaccines against MERS-CoV. The review further illustrates the molecular and computational virtual screening platforms which provide insights for the identification of putative drug targets and novel lead molecules toward the development of therapeutic remedies.
Keywords: MERS-CoV; animal models; emerging zoonotic virus; mechanisms of pathogenesis; probable drug targets; vaccine development.