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1.
Microbiol Spectr ; : e0151422, 2022 Jun 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1909617

ABSTRACT

Based on its predicted ability to affect transmissibility and pathogenesis, surveillance studies have highlighted the role of a specific mutation (P681R) in the S1/S2 furin cleavage site of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Here we analyzed A.23.1, first identified in Uganda, as a P681R-containing virus several months prior to the emergence of B.1.617.2 (Delta variant). We performed assays using peptides mimicking the S1/S2 from A.23.1 and B.1.617 and observed significantly increased cleavability with furin compared to both an original B lineage (Wuhan-Hu1) and B.1.1.7 (Alpha variant). We also performed cell-cell fusion and functional infectivity assays using pseudotyped particles and observed an increase in activity for A.23.1 compared to an original B lineage spike. However, these changes in activity were not reproduced in the B lineage spike bearing only the P681R substitution. Our findings suggest that while A.23.1 has increased furin-mediated cleavage linked to the P681R substitution, this substitution needs to occur on the background of other spike protein changes to enable its functional consequences. IMPORTANCE During the course of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, viral variants have emerged that often contain notable mutations in the spike gene. Mutations that encode changes in the spike S1/S2 (furin) activation site have been considered especially impactful. The S1/S2 change from proline to arginine at position 681 (P681R) first emerged in the A.23.1 variant in Uganda, and subsequently occurred in the more widely transmitted Delta variant. We show that the A.23.1 spike is more readily activated by the host cell protease furin, but that this is not reproduced in an original SARS-CoV-2 spike containing the P681R mutation. Changes to the S1/S2 (furin) activation site play a role in SARS-CoV-2 infection and spread, but successful viruses combine these mutations with other less well identified changes, occurring as part of natural selection.

2.
iScience ; 25(1): 103589, 2022 Jan 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1882120

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the agent causing the COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 (Alpha), a WHO variant of concern first identified in the United Kingdom in late 2020, contains several mutations including P681H in the spike S1/S2 cleavage site, which is predicted to increase cleavage by furin, potentially impacting the viral cell entry. Here, we studied the role of the P681H mutation in B.1.1.7 cell entry. We performed assays using fluorogenic peptides mimicking the Wuhan-Hu-1 and B.1.1.7 S1/S2 sequence and observed no significant difference in furin cleavage. Functional assays using pseudoparticles harboring SARS-CoV-2 spikes and cell-to-cell fusion assays demonstrated no differences between Wuhan-Hu-1, B.1.1.7, or a P681H point mutant. Likewise, we observed no differences in viral growth between USA-WA1/2020 and a B.1.1.7 isolate in cell culture. Our findings suggest that, although the B.1.1.7 P681H mutation may slightly increase S1/S2 cleavage, this does not significantly impact viral entry or cell-cell spread.

3.
2021.
Preprint in English | Other preprints | ID: ppcovidwho-295349

ABSTRACT

Summary Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the agent causing the COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 (Alpha), a WHO variant of concern (VOC) first identified in the UK in late 2020, contains several mutations including P681H in the spike S1/S2 cleavage site, which is predicted to increase cleavage by furin, potentially impacting the viral cell entry. Here, we studied the role of the P681H mutation in B.1.1.7 cell entry. We performed assays using fluorogenic peptides mimicking the Wuhan-Hu-1 and B.1.1.7 S1/S2 sequence and observed no significant difference in furin cleavage. Functional assays using pseudoparticles harboring SARS-CoV-2 spikes and cell-to-cell fusion assays demonstrated no differences between Wuhan-Hu-1, B.1.1.7 or a P681H point mutant. Likewise, we observed no differences in viral growth between USA-WA1/2020 and a B.1.1.7 isolate in cell culture. Our findings suggest that while the B.1.1.7 P681H mutation may slightly increase S1/S2 cleavage this does not significantly impact viral entry or cell-cell spread. Highlights SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 VOC has a P681H mutation in the spike that is predicted to enhance viral infection P681H does not significantly impact furin cleavage, viral entry or cell-cell spread Other mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 VOC may account for increased infection rates Graphical abstract

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