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1.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-440141

ABSTRACT

The presence of SARS-CoV-2 mutants, including the emerging variant B.1.1.7, has raised great concerns in terms of pathogenesis, transmission, and immune escape. Characterizing SARS-CoV-2 mutations, evolution, and effects on infectivity and pathogenicity is crucial to the design of antibody therapies and surveillance strategies. Here we analyzed 454,443 SARS-CoV-2 spike genes/proteins and 14,427 whole-genome sequences. We demonstrated that the early variant B.1.1.7 may not have evolved spontaneously in the United Kingdom or within human populations. Our extensive analyses suggested that Canidae, Mustelidae or Felidae, especially the Canidae family (for example, dog) could be a possible host of the direct progenitor of variant B.1.1.7. An alternative hypothesis is that the variant was simply yet to be sampled. Notably, the SARS-CoV-2 whole genome represents a large number of potential co-mutations with very strong statistical significances (p value

2.
Preprint in English | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-294330

ABSTRACT

Vaccines and antiviral agents are in urgent need to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. To facilitate antiviral screening against SARS-CoV-2 without requirement for high biosafety level facility, we developed a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-vectored replicon of SARS-CoV-2, nCoV-SH01 strain, in which secreted Gaussia luciferase (sGluc) was encoded in viral subgenomic mRNA as a reporter gene. The replicon was devoid of structural genes spike (S), membrane (M), and envelope (E). Upon transfection, the replicon RNA replicated in various cell lines, and was sensitive to interferon alpha (IFN-), remdesivir, but was resistant to hepatitis C virus inhibitors daclatasvir and sofosbuvir. Replication of the replicon was also sensitive overexpression of zinc-finger antiviral protein (ZAP). We also constructed a four-plasmid in-vitro ligation system that is compatible with the BAC system, which makes it easy to introduce desired mutations into the assembly plasmids for in-vitro ligation. This replicon system would be helpful for performing antiviral screening and dissecting virus-host interactions.

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