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1.
Virus Evol ; 8(2): veac054, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1931907

ABSTRACT

Recombination contributes to the genetic diversity found in coronaviruses and is known to be a prominent mechanism whereby they evolve. It is apparent, both from controlled experiments and in genome sequences sampled from nature, that patterns of recombination in coronaviruses are non-random and that this is likely attributable to a combination of sequence features that favour the occurrence of recombination break points at specific genomic sites, and selection disfavouring the survival of recombinants within which favourable intra-genome interactions have been disrupted. Here we leverage available whole-genome sequence data for six coronavirus subgenera to identify specific patterns of recombination that are conserved between multiple subgenera and then identify the likely factors that underlie these conserved patterns. Specifically, we confirm the non-randomness of recombination break points across all six tested coronavirus subgenera, locate conserved recombination hot- and cold-spots, and determine that the locations of transcriptional regulatory sequences are likely major determinants of conserved recombination break-point hotspot locations. We find that while the locations of recombination break points are not uniformly associated with degrees of nucleotide sequence conservation, they display significant tendencies in multiple coronavirus subgenera to occur in low guanine-cytosine content genome regions, in non-coding regions, at the edges of genes, and at sites within the Spike gene that are predicted to be minimally disruptive of Spike protein folding. While it is apparent that sequence features such as transcriptional regulatory sequences are likely major determinants of where the template-switching events that yield recombination break points most commonly occur, it is evident that selection against misfolded recombinant proteins also strongly impacts observable recombination break-point distributions in coronavirus genomes sampled from nature.

2.
Nat Med ; 2022 Jun 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1908212

ABSTRACT

Three lineages (BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3) of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant of concern predominantly drove South Africa's fourth Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) wave. We have now identified two new lineages, BA.4 and BA.5, responsible for a fifth wave of infections. The spike proteins of BA.4 and BA.5 are identical, and similar to BA.2 except for the addition of 69-70 deletion (present in the Alpha variant and the BA.1 lineage), L452R (present in the Delta variant), F486V and the wild-type amino acid at Q493. The two lineages differ only outside of the spike region. The 69-70 deletion in spike allows these lineages to be identified by the proxy marker of S-gene target failure, on the background of variants not possessing this feature. BA.4 and BA.5 have rapidly replaced BA.2, reaching more than 50% of sequenced cases in South Africa by the first week of April 2022. Using a multinomial logistic regression model, we estimated growth advantages for BA.4 and BA.5 of 0.08 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08-0.09) and 0.10 (95% CI: 0.09-0.11) per day, respectively, over BA.2 in South Africa. The continued discovery of genetically diverse Omicron lineages points to the hypothesis that a discrete reservoir, such as human chronic infections and/or animal hosts, is potentially contributing to further evolution and dispersal of the virus.

3.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 3645, 2022 06 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1908172

ABSTRACT

Recombination is an evolutionary process by which many pathogens generate diversity and acquire novel functions. Although a common occurrence during coronavirus replication, detection of recombination is only feasible when genetically distinct viruses contemporaneously infect the same host. Here, we identify an instance of SARS-CoV-2 superinfection, whereby an individual was infected with two distinct viral variants: Alpha (B.1.1.7) and Epsilon (B.1.429). This superinfection was first noted when an Alpha genome sequence failed to exhibit the classic S gene target failure behavior used to track this variant. Full genome sequencing from four independent extracts reveals that Alpha variant alleles comprise around 75% of the genomes, whereas the Epsilon variant alleles comprise around 20% of the sample. Further investigation reveals the presence of numerous recombinant haplotypes spanning the genome, specifically in the spike, nucleocapsid, and ORF 8 coding regions. These findings support the potential for recombination to reshape SARS-CoV-2 genetic diversity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Superinfection , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , New York City/epidemiology , Recombination, Genetic , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
4.
Microbiol Spectr ; : e0092622, 2022 Jun 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1891748

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variants contain many mutations in its spike receptor-binding domain, the target of all authorized monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Determining the extent to which Omicron variants reduced MAb susceptibility is critical to preventing and treating COVID-19. We systematically reviewed PubMed and three preprint servers, last updated 11 April 2022, for the in vitro activity of authorized MAbs against the Omicron variants. Fifty-one studies were eligible, including 50 containing Omicron BA.1 susceptibility data and 17 containing Omicron BA.2 susceptibility data. The first two authorized MAb combinations, bamlanivimab/etesevimab and casirivimab/imdevimab, were largely inactive against the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants. In 34 studies, sotrovimab displayed a median 4.0-fold (interquartile range [IQR]: 2.6 to 6.9) reduction in activity against Omicron BA.1, and in 12 studies, it displayed a median 17-fold (IQR: 13 to 30) reduction in activity against Omicron BA.2. In 15 studies, the combination cilgavimab/tixagevimab displayed a median 86-fold (IQR: 27 to 151) reduction in activity against Omicron BA.1, and in six studies, it displayed a median 5.4-fold (IQR: 3.7 to 6.9) reduction in activity against Omicron BA.2. In eight studies against Omicron BA.1 and six studies against Omicron BA.2, bebtelovimab displayed no reduction in activity. Disparate results between assays were common. For authorized MAbs, 51/268 (19.0%) results for wild-type control variants and 78/348 (22.4%) results for Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants were more than 4-fold below or 4-fold above the median result for that MAb. Highly disparate results between published assays indicate a need for improved MAb susceptibility test standardization or interassay calibration. IMPORTANCE Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) targeting the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein are among the most effective measures for preventing and treating COVID-19. However, SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variants contain many mutations in their spike receptor-binding domains, the target of all authorized MAbs. Therefore, determining the extent to which Omicron variants reduced MAb susceptibility is critical to preventing and treating COVID-19. We identified 51 studies that reported the in vitro susceptibility of the two main Omicron variants BA.1 and BA.2 to therapeutic MAbs in advanced clinical development, including eight authorized individual MAbs and three authorized MAb combinations. We estimated the degree to which different MAbs displayed reduced activity against Omicron variants. The marked loss of activity of many MAbs against Omicron variants underscores the importance of developing MAbs that target conserved regions of spike. Highly disparate results between assays indicate the need for improved MAb susceptibility test standardization.

5.
Mol Biol Evol ; 39(4)2022 04 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1758789

ABSTRACT

Among the 30 nonsynonymous nucleotide substitutions in the Omicron S-gene are 13 that have only rarely been seen in other SARS-CoV-2 sequences. These mutations cluster within three functionally important regions of the S-gene at sites that will likely impact (1) interactions between subunits of the Spike trimer and the predisposition of subunits to shift from down to up configurations, (2) interactions of Spike with ACE2 receptors, and (3) the priming of Spike for membrane fusion. We show here that, based on both the rarity of these 13 mutations in intrapatient sequencing reads and patterns of selection at the codon sites where the mutations occur in SARS-CoV-2 and related sarbecoviruses, prior to the emergence of Omicron the mutations would have been predicted to decrease the fitness of any virus within which they occurred. We further propose that the mutations in each of the three clusters therefore cooperatively interact to both mitigate their individual fitness costs, and, in combination with other mutations, adaptively alter the function of Spike. Given the evident epidemic growth advantages of Omicron overall previously known SARS-CoV-2 lineages, it is crucial to determine both how such complex and highly adaptive mutation constellations were assembled within the Omicron S-gene, and why, despite unprecedented global genomic surveillance efforts, the early stages of this assembly process went completely undetected.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , COVID-19/genetics , Humans , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
6.
Genome Biol Evol ; 14(2)2022 02 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1684680

ABSTRACT

The lack of an identifiable intermediate host species for the proximal animal ancestor of SARS-CoV-2, and the large geographical distance between Wuhan and where the closest evolutionary related coronaviruses circulating in horseshoe bats (members of the Sarbecovirus subgenus) have been identified, is fueling speculation on the natural origins of SARS-CoV-2. We performed a comprehensive phylogenetic study on SARS-CoV-2 and all the related bat and pangolin sarbecoviruses sampled so far. Determining the likely recombination events reveals a highly reticulate evolutionary history within this group of coronaviruses. Distribution of the inferred recombination events is nonrandom with evidence that Spike, the main target for humoral immunity, is beside a recombination hotspot likely driving antigenic shift events in the ancestry of bat sarbecoviruses. Coupled with the geographic ranges of their hosts and the sampling locations, across southern China, and into Southeast Asia, we confirm that horseshoe bats, Rhinolophus, are the likely reservoir species for the SARS-CoV-2 progenitor. By tracing the recombinant sequence patterns, we conclude that there has been relatively recent geographic movement and cocirculation of these viruses' ancestors, extending across their bat host ranges in China and Southeast Asia over the last 100 years. We confirm that a direct proximal ancestor to SARS-CoV-2 has not yet been sampled, since the closest known relatives collected in Yunnan shared a common ancestor with SARS-CoV-2 approximately 40 years ago. Our analysis highlights the need for dramatically more wildlife sampling to: 1) pinpoint the exact origins of SARS-CoV-2's animal progenitor, 2) the intermediate species that facilitated transmission from bats to humans (if there is one), and 3) survey the extent of the diversity in the related sarbecoviruses' phylogeny that present high risk for future spillovers.


Subject(s)
Chiroptera/virology , Coronavirus/genetics , Pangolins/virology , Phylogeny , Recombination, Genetic , Animals , Humans , Phylogeography
7.
Nature ; 603(7902): 679-686, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1638766

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in southern Africa has been characterized by three distinct waves. The first was associated with a mix of SARS-CoV-2 lineages, while the second and third waves were driven by the Beta (B.1.351) and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants, respectively1-3. In November 2021, genomic surveillance teams in South Africa and Botswana detected a new SARS-CoV-2 variant associated with a rapid resurgence of infections in Gauteng province, South Africa. Within three days of the first genome being uploaded, it was designated a variant of concern (Omicron, B.1.1.529) by the World Health Organization and, within three weeks, had been identified in 87 countries. The Omicron variant is exceptional for carrying over 30 mutations in the spike glycoprotein, which are predicted to influence antibody neutralization and spike function4. Here we describe the genomic profile and early transmission dynamics of Omicron, highlighting the rapid spread in regions with high levels of population immunity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Immune Evasion , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Botswana/epidemiology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , Humans , Models, Molecular , Mutation , Phylogeny , Recombination, Genetic , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , South Africa/epidemiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
9.
Nat Rev Genet ; 22(12): 757-773, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1428829

ABSTRACT

The past several months have witnessed the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants with novel spike protein mutations that are influencing the epidemiological and clinical aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These variants can increase rates of virus transmission and/or increase the risk of reinfection and reduce the protection afforded by neutralizing monoclonal antibodies and vaccination. These variants can therefore enable SARS-CoV-2 to continue its spread in the face of rising population immunity while maintaining or increasing its replication fitness. The identification of four rapidly expanding virus lineages since December 2020, designated variants of concern, has ushered in a new stage of the pandemic. The four variants of concern, the Alpha variant (originally identified in the UK), the Beta variant (originally identified in South Africa), the Gamma variant (originally identified in Brazil) and the Delta variant (originally identified in India), share several mutations with one another as well as with an increasing number of other recently identified SARS-CoV-2 variants. Collectively, these SARS-CoV-2 variants complicate the COVID-19 research agenda and necessitate additional avenues of laboratory, epidemiological and clinical research.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Biological Evolution , COVID-19/epidemiology , Epitopes/immunology , Humans , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
10.
Cell ; 184(20): 5189-5200.e7, 2021 09 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1401295

ABSTRACT

The independent emergence late in 2020 of the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1 lineages of SARS-CoV-2 prompted renewed concerns about the evolutionary capacity of this virus to overcome public health interventions and rising population immunity. Here, by examining patterns of synonymous and non-synonymous mutations that have accumulated in SARS-CoV-2 genomes since the pandemic began, we find that the emergence of these three "501Y lineages" coincided with a major global shift in the selective forces acting on various SARS-CoV-2 genes. Following their emergence, the adaptive evolution of 501Y lineage viruses has involved repeated selectively favored convergent mutations at 35 genome sites, mutations we refer to as the 501Y meta-signature. The ongoing convergence of viruses in many other lineages on this meta-signature suggests that it includes multiple mutation combinations capable of promoting the persistence of diverse SARS-CoV-2 lineages in the face of mounting host immune recognition.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Evolution, Molecular , Mutation , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Codon/genetics , Genes, Viral , Genetic Drift , Host Adaptation/genetics , Humans , Immune Evasion , Phylogeny , Public Health
11.
Nature ; 592(7854): 438-443, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1164876

ABSTRACT

Continued uncontrolled transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in many parts of the world is creating conditions for substantial evolutionary changes to the virus1,2. Here we describe a newly arisen lineage of SARS-CoV-2 (designated 501Y.V2; also known as B.1.351 or 20H) that is defined by eight mutations in the spike protein, including three substitutions (K417N, E484K and N501Y) at residues in its receptor-binding domain that may have functional importance3-5. This lineage was identified in South Africa after the first wave of the epidemic in a severely affected metropolitan area (Nelson Mandela Bay) that is located on the coast of the Eastern Cape province. This lineage spread rapidly, and became dominant in Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces within weeks. Although the full import of the mutations is yet to be determined, the genomic data-which show rapid expansion and displacement of other lineages in several regions-suggest that this lineage is associated with a selection advantage that most plausibly results from increased transmissibility or immune escape6-8.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Mutation , Phylogeny , Phylogeography , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , DNA Mutational Analysis , Evolution, Molecular , Genetic Fitness , Humans , Immune Evasion , Models, Molecular , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Selection, Genetic , South Africa/epidemiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Time Factors
12.
PLoS Biol ; 19(3): e3001115, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1133664

ABSTRACT

Virus host shifts are generally associated with novel adaptations to exploit the cells of the new host species optimally. Surprisingly, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has apparently required little to no significant adaptation to humans since the start of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and to October 2020. Here we assess the types of natural selection taking place in Sarbecoviruses in horseshoe bats versus the early SARS-CoV-2 evolution in humans. While there is moderate evidence of diversifying positive selection in SARS-CoV-2 in humans, it is limited to the early phase of the pandemic, and purifying selection is much weaker in SARS-CoV-2 than in related bat Sarbecoviruses. In contrast, our analysis detects evidence for significant positive episodic diversifying selection acting at the base of the bat virus lineage SARS-CoV-2 emerged from, accompanied by an adaptive depletion in CpG composition presumed to be linked to the action of antiviral mechanisms in these ancestral bat hosts. The closest bat virus to SARS-CoV-2, RmYN02 (sharing an ancestor about 1976), is a recombinant with a structure that includes differential CpG content in Spike; clear evidence of coinfection and evolution in bats without involvement of other species. While an undiscovered "facilitating" intermediate species cannot be discounted, collectively, our results support the progenitor of SARS-CoV-2 being capable of efficient human-human transmission as a consequence of its adaptive evolutionary history in bats, not humans, which created a relatively generalist virus.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Chiroptera/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Viral Zoonoses/virology , Animals , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Evolution, Molecular , Genome, Viral , Host Specificity , Humans , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Receptors, Virus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Selection, Genetic , Viral Zoonoses/genetics , Viral Zoonoses/transmission
13.
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(1)2020 Dec 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1011558

ABSTRACT

Our evolutionary and structural analyses revealed that the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike gene is a complex mosaic resulting from several recombination events. Additionally, the fixation of variants has mainly been driven by purifying selection, suggesting the presence of conserved structural features. Our dynamic simulations identified two main long-range covariant dynamic movements of the novel glycoprotein, and showed that, as a result of the evolutionary duality, they are preserved. The first movement involves the receptor binding domain with the N-terminal domain and the C-terminal domain 2 and is maintained across human, bat and pangolin coronaviruses. The second is a complex network of long-range dynamics specific to SARS-CoV-2 involving the novel PRRA and the conserved KR*SF cleavage sites, as well as conserved segments in C-terminal domain 3. These movements, essential for host cell binding, are maintained by hinges conserved across human, bat, and pangolin coronaviruses glycoproteins. The hinges, located around Threonine 333 and Proline 527 within the N-terminal domain and C-terminal domain 2, represent candidate targets for the future development of novel pan-coronavirus inhibitors. In summary, we show that while recombination created a new configuration that increased the covariant dynamic movements of the SARS-CoV-2 glycoprotein, negative selection preserved its inter-domain structure throughout evolution in different hosts and inter-species transmissions.


Subject(s)
Recombination, Genetic , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Chiroptera/virology , Coronavirus/chemistry , Coronavirus/genetics , Evolution, Molecular , Host Specificity , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Pangolins/virology , Phylogeny , Protein Binding , Protein Domains , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
14.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences ; 22(1):80, 2021.
Article in English | ScienceDirect | ID: covidwho-984862

ABSTRACT

Our evolutionary and structural analyses revealed that the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike gene is a complex mosaic resulting from several recombination events. Additionally, the fixation of variants has mainly been driven by purifying selection, suggesting the presence of conserved structural features. Our dynamic simulations identified two main long-range covariant dynamic movements of the novel glycoprotein, and showed that, as a result of the evolutionary duality, they are preserved. The first movement involves the receptor binding domain with the N-terminal domain and the C-terminal domain 2 and is maintained across human, bat and pangolin coronaviruses. The second is a complex network of long-range dynamics specific to SARS-CoV-2 involving the novel PRRA and the conserved KR*SF cleavage sites, as well as conserved segments in C-terminal domain 3. These movements, essential for host cell binding, are maintained by hinges conserved across human, bat, and pangolin coronaviruses glycoproteins. The hinges, located around Threonine 333 and Proline 527 within the N-terminal domain and C-terminal domain 2, represent candidate targets for the future development of novel pan-coronavirus inhibitors. In summary, we show that while recombination created a new configuration that increased the covariant dynamic movements of the SARS-CoV-2 glycoprotein, negative selection preserved its inter-domain structure throughout evolution in different hosts and inter-species transmissions.

15.
Mol Biol Evol ; 37(9): 2706-2710, 2020 09 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-641314

ABSTRACT

Due to the scope and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic there exists a strong desire to understand where the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from and how it jumped species boundaries to humans. Molecular evolutionary analyses can trace viral origins by establishing relatedness and divergence times of viruses and identifying past selective pressures. However, we must uphold rigorous standards of inference and interpretation on this topic because of the ramifications of being wrong. Here, we dispute the conclusions of Xia (2020. Extreme genomic CpG deficiency in SARS-CoV-2 and evasion of host antiviral defense. Mol Biol Evol. doi:10.1093/molbev/masa095) that dogs are a likely intermediate host of a SARS-CoV-2 ancestor. We highlight major flaws in Xia's inference process and his analysis of CpG deficiencies, and conclude that there is no direct evidence for the role of dogs as intermediate hosts. Bats and pangolins currently have the greatest support as ancestral hosts of SARS-CoV-2, with the strong caveat that sampling of wildlife species for coronaviruses has been limited.


Subject(s)
Alphacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Genome, Viral , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Reassortant Viruses/genetics , Alphacoronavirus/classification , Alphacoronavirus/pathogenicity , Animals , Betacoronavirus/classification , Betacoronavirus/pathogenicity , Biological Evolution , COVID-19 , Chiroptera/virology , Coronavirus Infections/immunology , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Coronavirus Infections/virology , CpG Islands , Dogs , Eutheria/virology , Humans , Immune Evasion/genetics , Pneumonia, Viral/immunology , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Protein Binding , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA, Viral/metabolism , RNA-Binding Proteins/genetics , RNA-Binding Proteins/immunology , RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism , Reassortant Viruses/classification , Reassortant Viruses/pathogenicity , SARS-CoV-2 , Virus Replication
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