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3.
Virus Evol ; 8(1): veac023, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1795112

ABSTRACT

COG-UK Mutation Explorer (COG-UK-ME, https://sars2.cvr.gla.ac.uk/cog-uk/-last accessed date 16 March 2022) is a web resource that displays knowledge and analyses on SARS-CoV-2 virus genome mutations and variants circulating in the UK, with a focus on the observed amino acid replacements that have an antigenic role in the context of the human humoral and cellular immune response. This analysis is based on more than 2 million genome sequences (as of March 2022) for UK SARS-CoV-2 data held in the CLIMB-COVID centralised data environment. COG-UK-ME curates these data and displays analyses that are cross-referenced to experimental data collated from the primary literature. The aim is to track mutations of immunological importance that are accumulating in current variants of concern and variants of interest that could alter the neutralising activity of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), convalescent sera, and vaccines. Changes in epitopes recognised by T cells, including those where reduced T cell binding has been demonstrated, are reported. Mutations that have been shown to confer SARS-CoV-2 resistance to antiviral drugs are also included. Using visualisation tools, COG-UK-ME also allows users to identify the emergence of variants carrying mutations that could decrease the neutralising activity of both mAbs present in therapeutic cocktails, e.g. Ronapreve. COG-UK-ME tracks changes in the frequency of combinations of mutations and brings together the curated literature on the impact of those mutations on various functional aspects of the virus and therapeutics. Given the unpredictable nature of SARS-CoV-2 as exemplified by yet another variant of concern, Omicron, continued surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 remains imperative to monitor virus evolution linked to the efficacy of therapeutics.

4.
J Gen Virol ; 103(4)2022 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1774462

ABSTRACT

Following the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in PR China in late 2019 a number of variants have emerged, with two of these - alpha and delta - subsequently growing to global prevalence. One characteristic of these variants are changes within the spike protein, in particular the receptor-binding domain (RBD). From a public health perspective, these changes have important implications for increased transmissibility and immune escape; however, their presence could also modify the intrinsic host range of the virus. Using viral pseudotyping, we examined whether the variants of concern (VOCs) alpha, beta, gamma and delta have differing host angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor usage patterns, focusing on a range of relevant mammalian ACE2 proteins. All four VOCs were able to overcome a previous restriction for mouse ACE2, with demonstrable differences also seen for individual VOCs with rat, ferret or civet ACE2 receptors, changes that we subsequently attributed to N501Y and E484K substitutions within the spike RBD.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Animals , Ferrets , Host Specificity , Humans , Mice , Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A/chemistry , Rats , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
5.
Vaccine ; 40(20): 2848-2855, 2022 May 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1768584

ABSTRACT

Vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 have been hugely successful in alleviating hospitalization and deaths caused by the newly emerged coronavirus that is the cause of COVID. However, although the parentally administered vaccines are very effective at reducing severe disease, they do not induce sterilizing immunity. As the virus continues to circulate around the globe, it is still not clear how long protection will last, nor whether variants will emerge that escape vaccine immunity. Animal models can be useful to complement studies of antigenicity of novel variants and inform decision making about the need for vaccine updates. The Syrian golden hamster is the preferred small animal model for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Since virus is efficiently transmitted between hamsters, we developed a transmission challenge model that presents a more natural dose and route of infection than the intranasal challenge usually employed. Our studies demonstrate that an saRNA vaccine based on the earliest Wuhan-like virus spike sequence induced neutralizing antibodies in sera of immunized hamsters at similar titres to those in human convalescent sera or vaccine recipients. The saRNA vaccine was equally effective at abrogating clinical signs in animals who acquired through exposure to cagemates infected either with a virus isolated in summer 2020 or with a representative Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant isolated in December 2020. The vaccine also reduced shedding of infectious virus from the nose, further reinforcing its likely effectiveness at reducing onwards transmission. This model can be extended to test the effectiveness of vaccination in blocking infections with and transmission of novel variants as they emerge.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Viral Vaccines , Animals , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/therapy , COVID-19 Vaccines , Cricetinae , Humans , Immunization, Passive , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccines, Synthetic
6.
EBioMedicine ; 77: 103902, 2022 Mar.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1700817

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: There is an ongoing global effort to design, manufacture, and clinically assess vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. Over the course of the ongoing pandemic a number of new SARS-CoV-2 virus isolates or variants of concern (VoC) have been identified containing mutations in key proteins. METHODS: In this study we describe the generation and preclinical assessment of a ChAdOx1-vectored vaccine (AZD2816) which expresses the spike protein of the Beta VoC (B.1.351). FINDINGS: We demonstrate that AZD2816 is immunogenic after a single dose. When AZD2816 is used as a booster dose in animals primed with a vaccine encoding the original spike protein (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/ [AZD1222]), an increase in binding and neutralising antibodies against Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1) and Delta (B.1.617.2) is observed following each additional dose. In addition, a strong and polyfunctional T cell response was measured all booster regimens. INTERPRETATION: Real world data is demonstrating that one or more doses of licensed SARS-CoV-2 vaccines confer reduced protection against hospitalisation and deaths caused by divergent VoC, including Omicron. Our data support the ongoing clinical development and testing of booster vaccines to increase immunity against highly mutated VoC. FUNDING: This research was funded by AstraZeneca with supporting funds from MRC and BBSRC.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
7.
SSRN;
Preprint in English | SSRN | ID: ppcovidwho-325961

ABSTRACT

Vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 have been hugely successful in alleviating hospitalization and deaths caused by the newly emerged coronavirus that is the cause of COVID. However, although the parentally administered vaccines are very effective at reducing severe disease, they do not induce sterilizing immunity. As the virus continues to circulate around the globe, it is still not clear how long protection will last, nor whether variants will emerge that escape vaccine immunity. Animal models can be useful to complement studies of antigenicity of novel variants and inform decision making about the need for vaccine updates. The Syrian golden hamster is the preferred small animal model for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Since virus is efficiently transmitted between hamsters, we developed a transmission challenge model that presents a more natural dose and route of infection than the intranasal challenge usually employed. Our studies demonstrate that an saRNA vaccine based on the earliest Wuhan-like virus spike sequence induced neutralizing antibodies in sera of immunized hamsters at similar titres to those in human convalescent sera or vaccine recipients. The saRNA vaccine was equally effective at abrogating clinical signs in animals who acquired through exposure to cagemates infected either with a virus isolated in summer 2020 or with a representative Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant isolated in December 2020. The vaccine also reduced shedding of infectious virus from the nose, further reinforcing its likely effectiveness at reducing onwards transmission. This model can be extended to test the effectiveness of vaccination in blocking infections with and transmission of novel variants as they emerge. Note: Funding Information: This study was supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [INV-016635]. We acknowledge the G2P-UK National Virology consortium funded by MRC/UKRI (grant ref: MR/W005611/1) for contributing funding for this work. RK was supported by Wellcome fellowship no. 216353/Z/19/Z. Declaration of Interests: Robin Shattock and Paul McKay RJS and PFM are co-inventors on a patent application covering this SARS-CoV-2 saRNA vaccine. All other authors have nothing to declare. Ethics Approval Statement: All work performed was approved by the local genetic manipulation (GM) safety committee of 217 Imperial College London, St. Mary’s Campus (centre number GM77), and the Health and Safety 218 Executive of the United Kingdom, under reference CBA1.77.20.1. Animal research was carried out 219 under a United Kingdom Home Office License, P48DAD9B4. Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, variant, saRNA, hamster, Transmission

8.
Curr Res Transl Med ; 70(2): 103333, 2022 05.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1683570

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The human protein transmembrane protease serine type 2 (TMPRSS2) plays a key role in SARS-CoV-2 infection, as it is required to activate the virus' spike protein, facilitating entry into target cells. We hypothesized that naturally-occurring TMPRSS2 human genetic variants affecting the structure and function of the TMPRSS2 protein may modulate the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection. METHODS: We focused on the only common TMPRSS2 non-synonymous variant predicted to be damaging (rs12329760 C>T, p.V160M), which has a minor allele frequency ranging from 0.14 in Ashkenazi Jewish to 0.38 in East Asians. We analysed the association between the rs12329760 and COVID-19 severity in 2,244 critically ill patients with COVID-19 from 208 UK intensive care units recruited as part of the GenOMICC (Genetics Of Mortality In Critical Care) study. Logistic regression analyses were adjusted for sex, age and deprivation index. For in vitro studies, HEK293 cells were co-transfected with ACE2 and either TMPRSS2 wild type or mutant (TMPRSS2V160M). A SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus entry assay was used to investigate the ability of TMPRSS2V160M to promote viral entry. RESULTS: We show that the T allele of rs12329760 is associated with a reduced likelihood of developing severe COVID-19 (OR 0.87, 95%CI:0.79-0.97, p = 0.01). This association was stronger in homozygous individuals when compared to the general population (OR 0.65, 95%CI:0.50-0.84, p = 1.3 × 10-3). We demonstrate in vitro that this variant, which causes the amino acid substitution valine to methionine, affects the catalytic activity of TMPRSS2 and is less able to support SARS-CoV-2 spike-mediated entry into cells. CONCLUSION: TMPRSS2 rs12329760 is a common variant associated with a significantly decreased risk of severe COVID-19. Further studies are needed to assess the expression of TMPRSS2 across different age groups. Moreover, our results identify TMPRSS2 as a promising drug target, with a potential role for camostat mesilate, a drug approved for the treatment of chronic pancreatitis and postoperative reflux esophagitis, in the treatment of COVID-19. Clinical trials are needed to confirm this.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/genetics , Gene Frequency , HEK293 Cells , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Serine Endopeptidases/genetics , Virus Internalization
9.
Cell Rep ; 38(6): 110344, 2022 02 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1639571

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 has a broad mammalian species tropism infecting humans, cats, dogs, and farmed mink. Since the start of the 2019 pandemic, several reverse zoonotic outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 have occurred in mink, one of which reinfected humans and caused a cluster of infections in Denmark. Here we investigate the molecular basis of mink and ferret adaptation and demonstrate the spike mutations Y453F, F486L, and N501T all specifically adapt SARS-CoV-2 to use mustelid ACE2. Furthermore, we risk assess these mutations and conclude mink-adapted viruses are unlikely to pose an increased threat to humans, as Y453F attenuates the virus replication in human cells and all three mink adaptations have minimal antigenic impact. Finally, we show that certain SARS-CoV-2 variants emerging from circulation in humans may naturally have a greater propensity to infect mustelid hosts and therefore these species should continue to be surveyed for reverse zoonotic infections.


Subject(s)
Adaptation, Biological/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Viral Zoonoses/genetics , Animals , COVID-19 , Ferrets/immunology , Genetic Fitness/genetics , Humans , Mink/immunology , Mutation , Pandemics , Respiratory System/virology , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
10.
Current research in translational medicine ; 2022.
Article in English | EuropePMC | ID: covidwho-1615101

ABSTRACT

Background : The human protein transmembrane protease serine type 2 (TMPRSS2) plays a key role in SARS-CoV-2 infection, as it is required to activate the virus’ spike protein, facilitating entry into target cells. We hypothesized that naturally-occurring TMPRSS2 human genetic variants affecting the structure and function of the TMPRSS2 protein may modulate the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Methods : We focused on the only common TMPRSS2 non-synonymous variant predicted to be damaging (rs12329760 C>T, p.V160M), which has a minor allele frequency ranging from from 0.14 in Ashkenazi Jewish to 0.38 in East Asians. We analysed the association between the rs12329760 and COVID-19 severity in 2,244 critically ill patients with COVID-19 from 208 UK intensive care units recruited as part of the GenOMICC (Genetics Of Mortality In Critical Care) study. Logistic regression analyses were adjusted for sex, age and deprivation index. For in vitro studies, HEK293 cells were co-transfected with ACE2 and either TMPRSS2 wild type or mutant (TMPRSS2V160M). A SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus entry assay was used to investigate the ability of TMPRSS2V160M to promote viral entry. Results : We show that the T allele of rs12329760 is associated with a reduced likelihood of developing severe COVID-19 (OR 0.87, 95%CI:0.79-0.97, p=0.01). This association was stronger in homozygous individuals when compared to the general population (OR 0.65, 95%CI:0.50-0.84, p=1.3 × 10−3). We demonstrate in vitro that this variant, which causes the amino acid substitution valine to methionine, affects the catalytic activity of TMPRSS2 and is less able to support SARS-CoV-2 spike-mediated entry into cells. Conclusion : TMPRSS2 rs12329760 is a common variant associated with a significantly decreased risk of severe COVID-19. Further studies are needed to assess the expression of TMPRSS2 across different age groups. Moreover, our results identify TMPRSS2 as a promising drug target, with a potential role for camostat mesilate, a drug approved for the treatment of chronic pancreatitis and postoperative reflux esophagitis, in the treatment of COVID-19. Clinical trials are needed to confirm this.

11.
PLoS Pathog ; 17(12): e1010022, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1546978

ABSTRACT

Vaccines are proving to be highly effective in controlling hospitalisation and deaths associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection but the emergence of viral variants with novel antigenic profiles threatens to diminish their efficacy. Assessment of the ability of sera from vaccine recipients to neutralise SARS-CoV-2 variants will inform the success of strategies for minimising COVID19 cases and the design of effective antigenic formulations. Here, we examine the sensitivity of variants of concern (VOCs) representative of the B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 (first associated with infections in India) and B.1.351 (first associated with infection in South Africa) lineages of SARS-CoV-2 to neutralisation by sera from individuals vaccinated with the BNT162b2 (Pfizer/BioNTech) and ChAdOx1 (Oxford/AstraZeneca) vaccines. Across all vaccinated individuals, the spike glycoproteins from B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 conferred reductions in neutralisation of 4.31 and 5.11-fold respectively. The reduction seen with the B.1.617.2 lineage approached that conferred by the glycoprotein from B.1.351 (South African) variant (6.29-fold reduction) that is known to be associated with reduced vaccine efficacy. Neutralising antibody titres elicited by vaccination with two doses of BNT162b2 were significantly higher than those elicited by vaccination with two doses of ChAdOx1. Fold decreases in the magnitude of neutralisation titre following two doses of BNT162b2, conferred reductions in titre of 7.77, 11.30 and 9.56-fold respectively to B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.351 pseudoviruses, the reduction in neutralisation of the delta variant B.1.617.2 surpassing that of B.1.351. Fold changes in those vaccinated with two doses of ChAdOx1 were 0.69, 4.01 and 1.48 respectively. The accumulation of mutations in these VOCs, and others, demonstrate the quantifiable risk of antigenic drift and subsequent reduction in vaccine efficacy. Accordingly, booster vaccines based on updated variants are likely to be required over time to prevent productive infection. This study also suggests that two dose regimes of vaccine are required for maximal BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1-induced immunity.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 , Immunization, Secondary , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , /immunology , /immunology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/prevention & control , HEK293 Cells , Humans
12.
Am J Respir Crit Care Med ; 202(2): 161-163, 2020 07 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388612
13.
Nat Microbiol ; 6(7): 899-909, 2021 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1205445

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 entry requires sequential cleavage of the spike glycoprotein at the S1/S2 and the S2' cleavage sites to mediate membrane fusion. SARS-CoV-2 has a polybasic insertion (PRRAR) at the S1/S2 cleavage site that can be cleaved by furin. Using lentiviral pseudotypes and a cell-culture-adapted SARS-CoV-2 virus with an S1/S2 deletion, we show that the polybasic insertion endows SARS-CoV-2 with a selective advantage in lung cells and primary human airway epithelial cells, but impairs replication in Vero E6, a cell line used for passaging SARS-CoV-2. Using engineered spike variants and live virus competition assays and by measuring growth kinetics, we find that the selective advantage in lung and primary human airway epithelial cells depends on the expression of the cell surface protease TMPRSS2, which enables endosome-independent virus entry by a route that avoids antiviral IFITM proteins. SARS-CoV-2 virus lacking the S1/S2 furin cleavage site was shed to lower titres from infected ferrets and was not transmitted to cohoused sentinel animals, unlike wild-type virus. Analysis of 100,000 SARS-CoV-2 sequences derived from patients and 24 human postmortem tissues showed low frequencies of naturally occurring mutants that harbour deletions at the polybasic site. Taken together, our findings reveal that the furin cleavage site is an important determinant of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , Furin/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Animals , COVID-19/virology , Cathepsins/metabolism , Chlorocebus aethiops , Endosomes/metabolism , Epithelial Cells , Ferrets , Humans , Immune Evasion , Membrane Proteins/metabolism , RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism , Respiratory System/cytology , Respiratory System/virology , Serine Endopeptidases/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vero Cells , Viral Genome Packaging , Virus Internalization , Virus Replication , Virus Shedding
14.
J Gen Virol ; 102(4)2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1186013

ABSTRACT

SARS-CoV-2 is thought to have originated in the human population from a zoonotic spillover event. Infection in humans results in a variety of outcomes ranging from asymptomatic cases to the disease COVID-19, which can have significant morbidity and mortality, with over two million confirmed deaths worldwide as of January 2021. Over a year into the pandemic, sequencing analysis has shown that variants of SARS-CoV-2 are being selected as the virus continues to circulate widely within the human population. The predominant drivers of genetic variation within SARS-CoV-2 are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) caused by polymerase error, potential host factor driven RNA modification, and insertion/deletions (indels) resulting from the discontinuous nature of viral RNA synthesis. While many mutations represent neutral 'genetic drift' or have quickly died out, a subset may be affecting viral traits such as transmissibility, pathogenicity, host range, and antigenicity of the virus. In this review, we summarise the current extent of genetic change in SARS-CoV-2, particularly recently emerging variants of concern, and consider the phenotypic consequences of this viral evolution that may impact the future trajectory of the pandemic.


Subject(s)
Adaptation, Physiological/genetics , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Animals , Antigens, Viral/genetics , Antigens, Viral/immunology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , Humans , Immune Evasion/genetics , Mutation , RNA, Viral/biosynthesis , RNA, Viral/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Viral Proteins/genetics , Viral Proteins/metabolism , Virus Internalization , Virus Replication , Zoonoses/transmission , Zoonoses/virology
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