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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.

Mol Syst Biol ; 18(2): e10673, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1687579


The highly contagious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has become a prevalent strain globally and poses a public health challenge around the world. While there has been extensive focus on understanding the amino acid mutations in the Delta variant's Spike protein, the mutational landscape of the rest of the SARS-CoV-2 proteome (25 proteins) remains poorly understood. To this end, we performed a systematic analysis of mutations in all the SARS-CoV-2 proteins from nearly 2 million SARS-CoV-2 genomes from 176 countries/territories. Six highly prevalent missense mutations in the viral life cycle-associated Membrane (I82T), Nucleocapsid (R203M, D377Y), NS3 (S26L), and NS7a (V82A, T120I) proteins are almost exclusive to the Delta variant compared to other variants of concern (mean prevalence across genomes: Delta = 99.74%, Alpha = 0.06%, Beta = 0.09%, and Gamma = 0.22%). Furthermore, we find that the Delta variant harbors a more diverse repertoire of mutations across countries compared to the previously dominant Alpha variant. Overall, our study underscores the high diversity of the Delta variant between countries and identifies a list of amino acid mutations in the Delta variant's proteome for probing the mechanistic basis of pathogenic features such as high viral loads, high transmissibility, and reduced susceptibility against neutralization by vaccines.

COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , Mutation , Mutation, Missense , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics