Discovery and Genomic Characterization of a Novel Henipavirus, Angavokely Virus, from Fruit Bats in Madagascar

J Virol. 2022 Sep 28;96(18):e0092122. doi: 10.1128/jvi.00921-22. Epub 2022 Aug 30.


The genus Henipavirus (family Paramyxoviridae) currently comprises seven viruses, four of which have demonstrated prior evidence of zoonotic capacity. These include the biosafety level 4 agents Hendra (HeV) and Nipah (NiV) viruses, which circulate naturally in pteropodid fruit bats. Here, we describe and characterize Angavokely virus (AngV), a divergent henipavirus identified in urine samples from wild, Madagascar fruit bats. We report the nearly complete 16,740-nucleotide genome of AngV, which encodes the six major henipavirus structural proteins (nucleocapsid, phosphoprotein, matrix, fusion, glycoprotein, and L polymerase). Within the phosphoprotein (P) gene, we identify an alternative start codon encoding the AngV C protein and a putative mRNA editing site where the insertion of one or two guanine residues encodes, respectively, additional V and W proteins. In other paramyxovirus systems, C, V, and W are accessory proteins involved in antagonism of host immune responses during infection. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that AngV is ancestral to all four previously described bat henipaviruses-HeV, NiV, Cedar virus (CedV), and Ghanaian bat virus (GhV)-but evolved more recently than rodent- and shrew-derived henipaviruses, Mojiang (MojV), Gamak (GAKV), and Daeryong (DARV) viruses. Predictive structure-based alignments suggest that AngV is unlikely to bind ephrin receptors, which mediate cell entry for all other known bat henipaviruses. Identification of the AngV receptor is needed to clarify the virus's potential host range. The presence of V and W proteins in the AngV genome suggest that the virus could be pathogenic following zoonotic spillover. IMPORTANCE Henipaviruses include highly pathogenic emerging zoonotic viruses, derived from bat, rodent, and shrew reservoirs. Bat-borne Hendra (HeV) and Nipah (NiV) are the most well-known henipaviruses, for which no effective antivirals or vaccines for humans have been described. Here, we report the discovery and characterization of a novel henipavirus, Angavokely virus (AngV), isolated from wild fruit bats in Madagascar. Genomic characterization of AngV reveals all major features associated with pathogenicity in other henipaviruses, suggesting that AngV could be pathogenic following spillover to human hosts. Our work suggests that AngV is an ancestral bat henipavirus that likely uses viral entry pathways distinct from those previously described for HeV and NiV. In Madagascar, bats are consumed as a source of human food, presenting opportunities for cross-species transmission. Characterization of novel henipaviruses and documentation of their pathogenic and zoonotic potential are essential to predicting and preventing the emergence of future zoonoses that cause pandemics.

Keywords: Eidolon dupreanum; Madagascar; bat-borne virus; emerging zoonosis; henipavirus; novel virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera* / genetics
  • Genome, Viral* / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Henipavirus Infections* / virology
  • Henipavirus* / classification
  • Henipavirus* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Madagascar
  • Nipah Virus* / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Urine / virology
  • Zoonoses / genetics


  • Glycoproteins