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Vaccines (Basel) ; 10(9)2022 Sep 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2033181


The emergence of a heavily mutated SARS-CoV-2 variant (Omicron; Pango lineage B.1.1.529 and BA sublineages) and its rapid spread to over 75 countries raised a global public health alarm. Characterizing the mutational profile of Omicron is necessary to interpret its clinical phenotypes which are shared with or distinctive from those of other SARS-CoV-2 variants. We compared the mutations of the initially circulating Omicron variant (now known as BA.1) with prior variants of concern (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta), variants of interest (Lambda, Mu, Eta, Iota, and Kappa), and ~1500 SARS-CoV-2 lineages constituting ~5.8 million SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Omicron's Spike protein harbors 26 amino acid mutations (23 substitutions, 2 deletions, and 1 insertion) that are distinct compared to other variants of concern. While the substitution and deletion mutations appeared in previous SARS-CoV-2 lineages, the insertion mutation (ins214EPE) was not previously observed in any other SARS-CoV-2 lineage. Here, we consider and discuss various mechanisms through which the nucleotide sequence encoding for ins214EPE could have been acquired, including local duplication, polymerase slippage, and template switching. Although we are not able to definitively determine the mechanism, we highlight the plausibility of template switching. Analysis of the homology of the inserted nucleotide sequence and flanking regions suggests that this template-switching event could have involved the genomes of SARS-CoV-2 variants (e.g., the B.1.1 strain), other human coronaviruses that infect the same host cells as SARS-CoV-2 (e.g., HCoV-OC43 or HCoV-229E), or a human transcript expressed in a host cell that was infected by the Omicron precursor.

Elife ; 92020 05 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-401507


The COVID-19 pandemic demands assimilation of all biomedical knowledge to decode mechanisms of pathogenesis. Despite the recent renaissance in neural networks, a platform for the real-time synthesis of the exponentially growing biomedical literature and deep omics insights is unavailable. Here, we present the nferX platform for dynamic inference from over 45 quadrillion possible conceptual associations from unstructured text, and triangulation with insights from single-cell RNA-sequencing, bulk RNA-seq and proteomics from diverse tissue types. A hypothesis-free profiling of ACE2 suggests tongue keratinocytes, olfactory epithelial cells, airway club cells and respiratory ciliated cells as potential reservoirs of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor. We find the gut as the putative hotspot of COVID-19, where a maturation correlated transcriptional signature is shared in small intestine enterocytes among coronavirus receptors (ACE2, DPP4, ANPEP). A holistic data science platform triangulating insights from structured and unstructured data holds potential for accelerating the generation of impactful biological insights and hypotheses.

Coronavirus Infections/virology , Libraries, Medical , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , Receptors, Virus/metabolism , Animals , Betacoronavirus/genetics , Betacoronavirus/metabolism , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Gene Expression Profiling , Humans , Knowledge Discovery , Mice , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/metabolism , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Receptors, Coronavirus , Receptors, Virus/chemistry , Receptors, Virus/genetics , SARS-CoV-2