Bat pluripotent stem cells reveal unusual entanglement between host and viruses

Marion Déjosez, Arturo Marin, Graham M. Hughes, Ariadna E. Morales, Carlos Godoy-Parejo, Jonathan L. Gray, Yiren Qin, Arun A. Singh, Hui Xu, Javier Juste, Carlos Ibáñez, Kris M. White, Romel Rosales, Nancy J. Francoeur, Robert P. Sebra, Dominic Alcock, Thomas L. Volkert, Sébastien J. Puechmaille, Andrzej Pastusiak, Simon D.W. FrostMichael Hiller, Richard A. Young, Emma C. Teeling, Adolfo García-Sastre, Thomas P. Zwaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Bats are distinctive among mammals due to their ability to fly, use laryngeal echolocation, and tolerate viruses. However, there are currently no reliable cellular models for studying bat biology or their response to viral infections. Here, we created induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from two species of bats: the wild greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) and the greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis). The iPSCs from both bat species showed similar characteristics and had a gene expression profile resembling that of cells attacked by viruses. They also had a high number of endogenous viral sequences, particularly retroviruses. These results suggest that bats have evolved mechanisms to tolerate a large load of viral sequences and may have a more intertwined relationship with viruses than previously thought. Further study of bat iPSCs and their differentiated progeny will provide insights into bat biology, virus host relationships, and the molecular basis of bats’ special traits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-974.e28
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2023


  • bats
  • cancer
  • coronaviruses
  • differentiation
  • endogenized viruses
  • epigenetics
  • evolution
  • host-pathogen-interactions
  • induced pluripotent stem cells
  • inflammation
  • virus response


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