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1.
Commun Biol ; 5(1): 285, 2022 03 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1768863

ABSTRACT

We build statistical models to describe the substitution process in the SARS-CoV-2 as a function of explanatory factors describing the sequence, its function, and more. These models serve two different purposes: first, to gain knowledge about the evolutionary biology of the virus; and second, to predict future mutations in the virus, in particular, non-synonymous amino acid substitutions creating new variants. We use tens of thousands of publicly available SARS-CoV-2 sequences and consider tens of thousands of candidate models. Through a careful validation process, we confirm that our chosen models are indeed able to predict new amino acid substitutions: candidates ranked high by our model are eight times more likely to occur than random amino acid changes. We also show that named variants were highly ranked by our models before their appearance, emphasizing the value of our models for identifying likely variants and potentially utilizing this knowledge in vaccine design and other aspects of the ongoing battle against COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Amino Acid Substitution , COVID-19/genetics , Humans , Models, Statistical , Mutation, Missense , SARS-CoV-2/genetics
2.
PLoS One ; 17(3): e0265748, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1753205

ABSTRACT

The new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can be fatal, and several variants of SARS-CoV-2 with mutations of the receptor-binding domain (RBD) have increased avidity for human cell receptors. A single missense mutation of U to G at nucleotide position 1355 (U1355G) in the spike (S) gene changes leucine to arginine (L452R) in the spike protein. This mutation has been observed in the India and California strains (B.1.617 and B.1.427/B.1.429, respectively). Control of COVID-19 requires rapid and reliable detection of SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, we established a reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) assay plus a bioluminescent assay in real-time (BART) to detect SARS-CoV-2 and the L452R spike mutation. The specificity and sensitivity of the RT-LAMP-BART assay was evaluated using synthetic RNAs including target sequences and RNA-spiked clinical nasopharyngeal and saliva specimens as well as reference strains representing five viral and four bacterial pathogens. The novel RT-LAMP-BART assay to detect SARS-CoV-2 was highly specific compared to the conventional real-time RT-PCR. Within 25 min, the RT-LAMP-BART assay detected 80 copies of the target gene in a sample, whereas the conventional real-time RT-PCR method detected 5 copies per reaction within 130 min. Using RNA-spiked specimens, the sensitivity of the RT-LAMP-BART assay was slightly attenuated compared to purified RNA as a template. The results were identical to those of the conventional real-time RT-PCR method. Furthermore, using a peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probe, the RT-LAMP-BART method correctly identified the L452R spike mutation. This is the first report describes RT-LAMP-BART as a simple, inexpensive, rapid, and useful assay for detection of SARS-CoV-2, its variants of concern, and for screening of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Amino Acid Substitution , COVID-19/diagnosis , Peptide Nucleic Acids/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Binding Sites , California , Early Diagnosis , Humans , India , Limit of Detection , Luminescent Measurements , Molecular Diagnostic Techniques , Mutation, Missense , Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction , Reverse Transcription , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Sensitivity and Specificity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry
3.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 1152, 2022 03 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1730284

ABSTRACT

In spring 2021, an increasing number of infections was observed caused by the hitherto rarely described SARS-CoV-2 variant A.27 in south-west Germany. From December 2020 to June 2021 this lineage has been detected in 31 countries. Phylogeographic analyses of A.27 sequences obtained from national and international databases reveal a global spread of this lineage through multiple introductions from its inferred origin in Western Africa. Variant A.27 is characterized by a mutational pattern in the spike gene that includes the L18F, L452R and N501Y spike amino acid substitutions found in various variants of concern but lacks the globally dominant D614G. Neutralization assays demonstrate an escape of A.27 from convalescent and vaccine-elicited antibody-mediated immunity. Moreover, the therapeutic monoclonal antibody Bamlanivimab and partially the REGN-COV2 cocktail fail to block infection by A.27. Our data emphasize the need for continued global monitoring of novel lineages because of the independent evolution of new escape mutations.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Africa, Western/epidemiology , Amino Acid Substitution , Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized/pharmacology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Antibodies, Neutralizing/pharmacology , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , COVID-19/transmission , Drug Combinations , Germany/epidemiology , Global Health , Humans , Immune Evasion/genetics , Mutation , Phylogeography , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
4.
Nat Commun ; 13(1): 871, 2022 02 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1692611

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant is currently the dominant circulating strain in the world. Uncovering the structural basis of the enhanced transmission and altered immune sensitivity of Delta is particularly important. Here we present cryo-EM structures revealing two conformational states of Delta spike and S/ACE2 complex in four states. Our cryo-EM analysis suggests that RBD destabilizations lead to population shift towards the more RBD-up and S1 destabilized fusion-prone state, beneficial for engagement with ACE2 and shedding of S1. Noteworthy, we find the Delta T478K substitution plays a vital role in stabilizing and reshaping the RBM loop473-490, enhancing interaction with ACE2. Collectively, increased propensity for more RBD-up states and the affinity-enhancing T478K substitution together contribute to increased ACE2 binding, providing structural basis of rapid spread of Delta. Moreover, we identify a previously generated MAb 8D3 as a cross-variant broadly neutralizing antibody and reveal that 8D3 binding induces a large K478 side-chain orientation change, suggesting 8D3 may use an "induced-fit" mechanism to tolerate Delta T478K mutation. We also find that all five RBD-targeting MAbs tested remain effective on Delta, suggesting that Delta well preserves the neutralizing antigenic landscape in RBD. Our findings shed new lights on the pathogenicity and antibody neutralization of Delta.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , COVID-19/transmission , Protein Domains/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Substitution/genetics , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Binding Sites , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies/immunology , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Humans , Immunoglobulin Fab Fragments/immunology , Protein Binding/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
5.
Microbiol Spectr ; 10(1): e0068121, 2022 02 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1691411

ABSTRACT

The N501Y amino acid mutation caused by a single point substitution A23063T in the spike gene of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is possessed by three variants of concern (VOCs), B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1. A rapid screening tool using this mutation is important for surveillance during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We developed and validated a single nucleotide polymorphism real-time reverse transcription PCR assay using allelic discrimination of the spike gene N501Y mutation to screen for potential variants of concern and differentiate them from SARS-CoV-2 lineages without the N501Y mutation. A total of 160 clinical specimens positive for SARS-CoV-2 were characterized as mutant (N501Y) or N501 wild type by Sanger sequencing and were subsequently tested with the N501Y single nucleotide polymorphism real-time reverse transcriptase PCR assay. Our assay, compared to Sanger sequencing for single nucleotide polymorphism detection, demonstrated positive percent agreement of 100% for all 57 specimens displaying the N501Y mutation, which were confirmed by Sanger sequencing to be typed as A23063T, including one specimen with mixed signal for wild type and mutant. Negative percent agreement was 100% in all 103 specimens typed as N501 wild type, with A23063 identified as wild type by Sanger sequencing. The identification of circulating SARS-CoV-2 lineages carrying an N501Y mutation is critical for surveillance purposes. Current identification methods rely primarily on Sanger sequencing or whole-genome sequencing, which are time consuming, labor intensive, and costly. The assay described herein is an efficient tool for high-volume specimen screening for SARS-CoV-2 VOCs and for selecting specimens for confirmatory Sanger or whole-genome sequencing. IMPORTANCE During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, several variants of concern (VOCs) have been detected, for example, B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, and B.1.617.2. The VOCs pose a threat to public health efforts to control the spread of the virus. As such, surveillance and monitoring of these VOCs is of the utmost importance. Our real-time RT-PCR assay helps with surveillance by providing an easy method to quickly survey SARS-CoV-2 specimens for VOCs carrying the N501Y single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). Samples that test positive for the N501Y mutation in the spike gene with our assay can be sequenced to identify the lineage. Thus, our assay helps to focus surveillance efforts and decrease turnaround times.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/diagnosis , Mutation, Missense , Point Mutation , Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction/methods , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Alleles , Amino Acid Substitution , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Genes, Viral , Humans , Mass Screening , Ontario/epidemiology , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide , Population Surveillance , Prevalence , Reproducibility of Results , Sensitivity and Specificity
6.
Front Immunol ; 12: 830527, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1686478

ABSTRACT

The new SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern "Omicron" was recently spotted in South Africa and spread quickly around the world due to its enhanced transmissibility. The variant became conspicuous as it harbors more than 30 mutations in the Spike protein with 15 mutations in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) alone, potentially dampening the potency of therapeutic antibodies and enhancing the ACE2 binding. More worrying, Omicron infections have been reported in vaccinees in South Africa and Hong Kong, and that post-vaccination sera poorly neutralize the new variant. Here, we investigated the binding strength of Omicron with ACE2 and monoclonal antibodies that are either approved by the FDA for COVID-19 therapy or undergoing phase III clinical trials. Computational mutagenesis and free energy perturbation could confirm that Omicron RBD binds ACE2 ~2.5 times stronger than prototype SARS-CoV-2. Notably, three substitutions, i.e., T478K, Q493K, and Q498R, significantly contribute to the binding energies and almost doubled the electrostatic potential (ELE) of the RBDOmic-ACE2 complex. Omicron also harbors E484A substitution instead of the E484K that helped neutralization escape of Beta, Gamma, and Mu variants. Together, T478K, Q493K, Q498R, and E484A substitutions contribute to a significant drop in the ELE between RBDOmic-mAbs, particularly in etesevimab, bamlanivimab, and CT-p59. AZD1061 showed a slight drop in ELE and sotrovimab that binds a conserved epitope on the RBD; therefore, it could be used as a cocktail therapy in Omicron-driven COVID-19. In conclusion, we suggest that the Spike mutations prudently devised by the virus facilitate the receptor binding, weakening the mAbs binding to escape the immune response.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 , Antibodies, Monoclonal , Antibodies, Viral , COVID-19 , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Mutation, Missense , SARS-CoV-2 , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus , Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/immunology , Antibodies, Monoclonal/chemistry , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Monoclonal/therapeutic use , Antibodies, Viral/chemistry , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/immunology , Humans , Immune Evasion , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology
7.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 1299, 2022 01 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1655622

ABSTRACT

Recently, an international randomized controlled clinical trial showed that patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection treated orally with the 3-chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro) inhibitor PF-07321332 within three days of symptom onset showed an 89% lower risk of COVID-19-related hospital admission/ death from any cause as compared with the patients who received placebo. Lending support to this critically important result of the aforementioned trial, we demonstrated in our study that patients infected with a SARS-Cov-2 sub-lineage (B.1.1.284) carrying the Pro108Ser mutation in 3CLpro tended to have a comparatively milder clinical course (i.e., a smaller proportion of patients required oxygen supplementation during the clinical course) than patients infected with the same sub-lineage of virus not carrying the mutation. Characterization of the mutant 3CLpro revealed that the Kcat/Km of the 3CLpro enzyme containing Ser108 was 58% lower than that of Pro108 3CLpro. Hydrogen/deuterium-exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) revealed that the reduced activity was associated with structural perturbation surrounding the substrate-binding region of the enzyme, which is positioned behind and distant from the 108th amino acid residue. Our findings of the attenuated clinical course of COVID-19 in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 strains with reduced 3CLpro enzymatic activity greatly endorses the promising result of the aforementioned clinical trial of the 3CLpro inhibitor.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Coronavirus 3C Proteases , Mutation, Missense , Patient Acuity , Adult , Aged , Amino Acid Substitution , COVID-19/enzymology , COVID-19/genetics , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/genetics , Coronavirus 3C Proteases/metabolism , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged
8.
Science ; 375(6583): 864-868, 2022 02 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1650843

ABSTRACT

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Omicron variant of concern evades antibody-mediated immunity that comes from vaccination or infection with earlier variants due to accumulation of numerous spike mutations. To understand the Omicron antigenic shift, we determined cryo-electron microscopy and x-ray crystal structures of the spike protein and the receptor-binding domain bound to the broadly neutralizing sarbecovirus monoclonal antibody (mAb) S309 (the parent mAb of sotrovimab) and to the human ACE2 receptor. We provide a blueprint for understanding the marked reduction of binding of other therapeutic mAbs that leads to dampened neutralizing activity. Remodeling of interactions between the Omicron receptor-binding domain and human ACE2 likely explains the enhanced affinity for the host receptor relative to the ancestral virus.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Antibodies, Viral/chemistry , Immune Evasion , Receptors, Coronavirus/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Antibodies, Monoclonal/chemistry , Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , Antibodies, Monoclonal/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/immunology , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies/chemistry , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies/immunology , Broadly Neutralizing Antibodies/metabolism , Cryoelectron Microscopy , Crystallography, X-Ray , Humans , Models, Molecular , Mutation , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Protein Domains/genetics , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs/genetics , Receptors, Coronavirus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
9.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 119(6)2022 02 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1642083

ABSTRACT

Adenosine deaminases acting on RNA (ADAR) are RNA-editing enzymes that may restrict viral infection. We have utilized deep sequencing to determine adenosine to guanine (A→G) mutations, signifying ADAR activity, in clinical samples retrieved from 93 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected patients in the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. A→G mutations were detected in 0.035% (median) of RNA residues and were predominantly nonsynonymous. These mutations were rarely detected in the major viral population but were abundant in minor viral populations in which A→G was more prevalent than any other mutation (P < 0.001). The A→G substitutions accumulated in the spike protein gene at positions corresponding to amino acids 505 to 510 in the receptor binding motif and at amino acids 650 to 655. The frequency of A→G mutations in minor viral populations was significantly associated with low viral load (P < 0.001). We additionally analyzed A→G mutations in 288,247 SARS-CoV-2 major (consensus) sequences representing the dominant viral population. The A→G mutations observed in minor viral populations in the initial patient cohort were increasingly detected in European consensus sequences between March and June 2020 (P < 0.001) followed by a decline of these mutations in autumn and early winter (P < 0.001). We propose that ADAR-induced deamination of RNA is a significant source of mutated SARS-CoV-2 and hypothesize that the degree of RNA deamination may determine or reflect viral fitness and infectivity.


Subject(s)
Adenosine Deaminase/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Point Mutation , RNA Editing , RNA, Viral/genetics , RNA-Binding Proteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Adenosine/metabolism , Adenosine Deaminase/metabolism , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Amino Acid Substitution , COVID-19/genetics , COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Deamination , Female , Genetic Fitness , Genome, Viral , Guanine/metabolism , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , RNA, Viral/metabolism , RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Signal Transduction , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Sweden/epidemiology , Viral Load , Virulence
10.
Nat Chem Biol ; 18(3): 342-351, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1639481

ABSTRACT

Vaccine hesitancy and emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern (VOCs) escaping vaccine-induced immune responses highlight the urgency for new COVID-19 therapeutics. Engineered angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) proteins with augmented binding affinities for SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein may prove to be especially efficacious against multiple variants. Using molecular dynamics simulations and functional assays, we show that three amino acid substitutions in an engineered soluble ACE2 protein markedly augmented the affinity for the S protein of the SARS-CoV-2 WA-1/2020 isolate and multiple VOCs: B.1.1.7 (Alpha), B.1.351 (Beta), P.1 (Gamma) and B.1.617.2 (Delta). In humanized K18-hACE2 mice infected with the SARS-CoV-2 WA-1/2020 or P.1 variant, prophylactic and therapeutic injections of soluble ACE22.v2.4-IgG1 prevented lung vascular injury and edema formation, essential features of CoV-2-induced SARS, and above all improved survival. These studies demonstrate broad efficacy in vivo of an engineered ACE2 decoy against SARS-CoV-2 variants in mice and point to its therapeutic potential.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , COVID-19/prevention & control , Protein Engineering , SARS-CoV-2 , Amino Acid Sequence , Amino Acid Substitution , Animals , Antiviral Agents , Drug Discovery , Humans , Lung Injury , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , Models, Molecular , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Respiratory Distress Syndrome , Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
11.
Signal Transduct Target Ther ; 7(1): 18, 2022 01 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1639142

ABSTRACT

Emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants are the most serious problem for COVID-19 prophylaxis and treatment. To determine whether the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine strain should be updated following variant emergence like seasonal flu vaccine, the changed degree on antigenicity of SARS-CoV-2 variants and H3N2 flu vaccine strains was compared. The neutralization activities of Alpha, Beta and Gamma variants' spike protein-immunized sera were analysed against the eight current epidemic variants and 20 possible variants combining the top 10 prevalent RBD mutations based on the Delta variant, which were constructed using pseudotyped viruses. Meanwhile, the neutralization activities of convalescent sera and current inactivated and recombinant protein vaccine-elicited sera were also examined against all possible Delta variants. Eight HA protein-expressing DNAs elicited-animal sera were also tested against eight pseudotyped viruses of H3N2 flu vaccine strains from 2011-2019. Our results indicate that the antigenicity changes of possible Delta variants were mostly within four folds, whereas the antigenicity changes among different H3N2 vaccine strains were approximately 10-100-fold. Structural analysis of the antigenic characterization of the SARS-CoV-2 and H3N2 mutations supports the neutralization results. This study indicates that the antigenicity changes of the current SARS-CoV-2 may not be sufficient to require replacement of the current vaccine strain.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism , Antibodies, Viral/metabolism , COVID-19 Vaccines/metabolism , COVID-19/prevention & control , Immunogenicity, Vaccine , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Amino Acid Substitution , Antibodies, Neutralizing/chemistry , Antibodies, Neutralizing/genetics , Antibodies, Viral/chemistry , Antibodies, Viral/genetics , Binding Sites , COVID-19/immunology , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , COVID-19 Vaccines/chemistry , Epitopes/chemistry , Epitopes/genetics , Epitopes/immunology , Gene Expression , Humans , Immune Sera/chemistry , Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype/chemistry , Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype/genetics , Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype/immunology , Influenza Vaccines/administration & dosage , Influenza Vaccines/chemistry , Influenza Vaccines/metabolism , Influenza, Human/immunology , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Influenza, Human/virology , Models, Molecular , Mutation , Neutralization Tests , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
12.
Sci Rep ; 12(1): 936, 2022 01 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1630273

ABSTRACT

Low complexity regions (LCRs) are protein sequences formed by a set of compositionally biased residues. LCRs are extremely abundant in cellular proteins and have also been reported in viruses, where they may partake in evasion of the host immune system. Analyses of 28,231 SARS-CoV-2 whole proteomes and of 261,051 spike protein sequences revealed the presence of four extremely conserved LCRs in the spike protein of several SARS-CoV-2 variants. With the exception of Iota, where it is absent, the Spike LCR-1 is present in the signal peptide of 80.57% of the Delta variant sequences, and in other variants of concern and interest. The Spike LCR-2 is highly prevalent (79.87%) in Iota. Two distinctive LCRs are present in the Delta spike protein. The Delta Spike LCR-3 is present in 99.19% of the analyzed sequences, and the Delta Spike LCR-4 in 98.3% of the same set of proteins. These two LCRs are located in the furin cleavage site and HR1 domain, respectively, and may be considered hallmark traits of the Delta variant. The presence of the medically-important point mutations P681R and D950N in these LCRs, combined with the ubiquity of these regions in the highly contagious Delta variant opens the possibility that they may play a role in its rapid spread.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/genetics , Mutation, Missense , Proteome/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Amino Acid Substitution , COVID-19/metabolism , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism
13.
Int J Mol Sci ; 23(2)2022 Jan 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1625319

ABSTRACT

A rational therapeutic strategy is urgently needed for combating SARS-CoV-2 infection. Viral infection initiates when the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) binds to the ACE2 receptor, and thus, inhibiting RBD is a promising therapeutic for blocking viral entry. In this study, the structure of lead antiviral candidate binder (LCB1), which has three alpha-helices (H1, H2, and H3), is used as a template to design and simulate several miniprotein RBD inhibitors. LCB1 undergoes two modifications: structural modification by truncation of the H3 to reduce its size, followed by single and double amino acid substitutions to enhance its binding with RBD. We use molecular dynamics (MD) simulations supported by ab initio density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Complete binding profiles of all miniproteins with RBD have been determined. The MD investigations reveal that the H3 truncation results in a small inhibitor with a -1.5 kcal/mol tighter binding to RBD than original LCB1, while the best miniprotein with higher binding affinity involves D17R or E11V + D17R mutation. DFT calculations provide atomic-scale details on the role of hydrogen bonding and partial charge distribution in stabilizing the minibinder:RBD complex. This study provides insights into general principles for designing potential therapeutics for SARS-CoV-2.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , Small Molecule Libraries/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/antagonists & inhibitors , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Amino Acid Substitution , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Computational Biology , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Protein Binding , Protein Domains , Protein Structure, Secondary , Virus Internalization
14.
Viruses ; 14(2)2022 01 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1625168

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten healthcare systems worldwide due to the limited access to vaccines, suboptimal treatment options, and the continuous emergence of new and more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants. Reverse-genetics studies of viral genes and mutations have proven highly valuable in advancing basic virus research, leading to the development of therapeutics. We developed a functional and highly versatile full-length SARS-CoV-2 infectious system by cloning the sequence of a COVID-19 associated virus isolate (DK-AHH1) into a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC). Viruses recovered after RNA-transfection of in vitro transcripts into Vero E6 cells showed growth kinetics and remdesivir susceptibility similar to the DK-AHH1 virus isolate. Insertion of reporter genes, green fluorescent protein, and nanoluciferase into the ORF7 genomic region led to high levels of reporter activity, which facilitated high throughput treatment experiments. We found that putative coronavirus remdesivir resistance-associated substitutions F480L and V570L-and naturally found polymorphisms A97V, P323L, and N491S, all in nsp12-did not decrease SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility to remdesivir. A nanoluciferase reporter clone with deletion of spike (S), envelope (E), and membrane (M) proteins exhibited high levels of transient replication, was inhibited by remdesivir, and therefore could function as an efficient non-infectious subgenomic replicon system. The developed SARS-CoV-2 reverse-genetics systems, including recombinants to modify infectious viruses and non-infectious subgenomic replicons with autonomous genomic RNA replication, will permit high-throughput cell culture studies-providing fundamental understanding of basic biology of this coronavirus. We have proven the utility of the systems in rapidly introducing mutations in nsp12 and studying their effect on the efficacy of remdesivir, which is used worldwide for the treatment of COVID-19. Our system provides a platform to effectively test the antiviral activity of drugs and the phenotype of SARS-CoV-2 mutants.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Drug Resistance, Viral/genetics , Reverse Genetics/methods , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Virus Replication/genetics , Amino Acid Substitution , Animals , Chlorocebus aethiops , Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial/genetics , Humans , Polymorphism, Genetic , Replicon/drug effects , Replicon/genetics , Vero Cells
15.
J Virol ; 96(1): e0111021, 2022 01 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1621992

ABSTRACT

Mutations in the spike protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants can compromise the effectiveness of therapeutic antibodies. Most clinical-stage therapeutic antibodies target the spike receptor binding domain (RBD), but variants often have multiple mutations in several spike regions. To help predict antibody potency against emerging variants, we evaluated 25 clinical-stage therapeutic antibodies for neutralization activity against 60 pseudoviruses bearing spikes with single or multiple substitutions in several spike domains, including the full set of substitutions in B.1.1.7 (alpha), B.1.351 (beta), P.1 (gamma), B.1.429 (epsilon), B.1.526 (iota), A.23.1, and R.1 variants. We found that 14 of 15 single antibodies were vulnerable to at least one RBD substitution, but most combination and polyclonal therapeutic antibodies remained potent. Key substitutions in variants with multiple spike substitutions predicted resistance, but the degree of resistance could be modified in unpredictable ways by other spike substitutions that may reside outside the RBD. These findings highlight the importance of assessing antibody potency in the context of all substitutions in a variant and show that epistatic interactions in spike can modify virus susceptibility to therapeutic antibodies. IMPORTANCE Therapeutic antibodies are effective in preventing severe disease from SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19), but their effectiveness may be reduced by virus variants with mutations affecting the spike protein. To help predict resistance to therapeutic antibodies in emerging variants, we profiled resistance patterns of 25 antibody products in late stages of clinical development against a large panel of variants that include single and multiple substitutions found in the spike protein. We found that the presence of a key substitution in variants with multiple spike substitutions can predict resistance against a variant but that other substitutions can affect the degree of resistance in unpredictable ways. These findings highlight complex interactions among substitutions in the spike protein affecting virus neutralization and, potentially, virus entry into cells.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Monoclonal/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/immunology , Amino Acid Substitution , Antibodies, Neutralizing/immunology , Mutation , Protein Binding , Protein Domains , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
16.
Commun Biol ; 5(1): 20221, 2022 01 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1612213

ABSTRACT

As the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) pandemic continues to spread, several variants of the virus, with mutations distributed all over the viral genome, are emerging. While most of the variants present mutations having little to no effects at the phenotypic level, some of these variants are spreading at a rate that suggests they may present a selective advantage. In particular, these rapidly spreading variants present specific mutations on the spike protein. These observations call for an urgent need to characterize the effects of these variants' mutations on phenotype features like contagiousness and antigenicity. With this aim, we performed molecular dynamics simulations on a selected set of possible spike variants in order to assess the stabilizing effect of particular amino acid substitutions on the molecular complex. We specifically focused on the mutations that are both characteristic of the top three most worrying variants at the moment, i.e the English, South African, and Amazonian ones, and that occur at the molecular interface between SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and its human ACE2 receptor. We characterize these variants' effect in terms of (i) residue mobility, (ii) compactness, studying the network of interactions at the interface, and (iii) variation of shape complementarity via expanding the molecular surfaces in the Zernike basis. Overall, our analyses highlighted greater stability of the three variant complexes with respect to both the wild type and two negative control systems, especially for the English and Amazonian variants. In addition, in the three variants, we investigate the effects a not-yet observed mutation in position 501 could provoke on complex stability. We found that a phenylalanine mutation behaves similarly to the English variant and may cooperate in further increasing the stability of the South African one, hinting at the need for careful surveillance for the emergence of these mutations in the population. Ultimately, we show that the proposed observables describe key features for the stability of the ACE2-spike complex and can help to monitor further possible spike variants.


Subject(s)
Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Protein Binding
17.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun ; 592: 18-23, 2022 02 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1611627

ABSTRACT

The emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 variants poses a threat to the human population where it is difficult to assess the severity of a particular variant of the virus. Spike protein and specifically its receptor binding domain (RBD) which makes direct interaction with the ACE2 receptor of the human has shown prominent amino acid substitutions in most of the Variants of Concern. Here, by using all-atom molecular dynamics simulations we compare the interaction of Wild-type RBD/ACE2 receptor complex with that of the latest Omicron variant of the virus. We observed a very interesting diversification of the charge, dynamics and energetics of the protein complex formed upon mutations. These results would help us in understanding the molecular basis of binding of the Omicron variant with that of SARS-CoV-2 Wild-type.


Subject(s)
Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/chemistry , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/virology , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Amino Acid Substitution , Host Microbial Interactions/genetics , Host Microbial Interactions/physiology , Humans , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Pandemics , Protein Binding , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Static Electricity
18.
J Virol ; 94(13)2020 06 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1583223

ABSTRACT

Fusion with, and subsequent entry into, the host cell is one of the critical steps in the life cycle of enveloped viruses. For Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the spike (S) protein is the main determinant of viral entry. Proteolytic cleavage of the S protein exposes its fusion peptide (FP), which initiates the process of membrane fusion. Previous studies on the related severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) FP have shown that calcium ions (Ca2+) play an important role in fusogenic activity via a Ca2+ binding pocket with conserved glutamic acid (E) and aspartic acid (D) residues. SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV FPs share a high sequence homology, and here, we investigated whether Ca2+ is required for MERS-CoV fusion by screening a mutant array in which E and D residues in the MERS-CoV FP were substituted with neutrally charged alanines (A). Upon verifying mutant cell surface expression and proteolytic cleavage, we tested their ability to mediate pseudoparticle (PP) infection of host cells in modulating Ca2+ environments. Our results demonstrate that intracellular Ca2+ enhances MERS-CoV wild-type (WT) PP infection by approximately 2-fold and that E891 is a crucial residue for Ca2+ interaction. Subsequent electron spin resonance (ESR) experiments revealed that this enhancement could be attributed to Ca2+ increasing MERS-CoV FP fusion-relevant membrane ordering. Intriguingly, isothermal calorimetry showed an approximate 1:1 MERS-CoV FP to Ca2+ ratio, as opposed to an 1:2 SARS-CoV FP to Ca2+ ratio, suggesting significant differences in FP Ca2+ interactions of MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV FP despite their high sequence similarity.IMPORTANCE Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a major emerging infectious disease with zoonotic potential and has reservoirs in dromedary camels and bats. Since its first outbreak in 2012, the virus has repeatedly transmitted from camels to humans, with 2,468 confirmed cases causing 851 deaths. To date, there are no efficacious drugs and vaccines against MERS-CoV, increasing its potential to cause a public health emergency. In order to develop novel drugs and vaccines, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms that enable the virus to infect host cells. Our data have found that calcium is an important regulator of viral fusion by interacting with negatively charged residues in the MERS-CoV FP region. This information can guide therapeutic solutions to block this calcium interaction and also repurpose already approved drugs for this use for a fast response to MERS-CoV outbreaks.


Subject(s)
Calcium/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Host-Pathogen Interactions , Ions/metabolism , Membrane Fusion , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/physiology , Virus Internalization , Amino Acid Sequence , Amino Acid Substitution , Animals , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Humans , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/pathogenicity , Models, Molecular , Mutation , Protein Binding , Proteolysis , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Structure-Activity Relationship , Vero Cells , Virulence , Virus Assembly
19.
Nature ; 602(7896): 307-313, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585832

ABSTRACT

Emerging variants of concern (VOCs) are driving the COVID-19 pandemic1,2. Experimental assessments of replication and transmission of major VOCs and progenitors are needed to understand the mechanisms of replication and transmission of VOCs3. Here we show that the spike protein (S) from Alpha (also known as B.1.1.7) and Beta (B.1.351) VOCs had a greater affinity towards the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor than that of the progenitor variant S(D614G) in vitro. Progenitor variant virus expressing S(D614G) (wt-S614G) and the Alpha variant showed similar replication kinetics in human nasal airway epithelial cultures, whereas the Beta variant was outcompeted by both. In vivo, competition experiments showed a clear fitness advantage of Alpha over wt-S614G in ferrets and two mouse models-the substitutions in S were major drivers of the fitness advantage. In hamsters, which support high viral replication levels, Alpha and wt-S614G showed similar fitness. By contrast, Beta was outcompeted by Alpha and wt-S614G in hamsters and in mice expressing human ACE2. Our study highlights the importance of using multiple models to characterize fitness of VOCs and demonstrates that Alpha is adapted for replication in the upper respiratory tract and shows enhanced transmission in vivo in restrictive models, whereas Beta does not overcome Alpha or wt-S614G in naive animals.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Virus Replication , Amino Acid Substitution , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Animals, Laboratory/virology , COVID-19/veterinary , Cricetinae , Disease Models, Animal , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Ferrets/virology , Humans , Male , Mesocricetus/virology , Mice , Mice, Transgenic , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/growth & development , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/metabolism , Virulence/genetics
20.
Nature ; 602(7897): 481-486, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1585829

ABSTRACT

Humans have infected a wide range of animals with SARS-CoV-21-5, but the establishment of a new natural animal reservoir has not been observed. Here we document that free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are highly susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2, are exposed to multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants from humans and are capable of sustaining transmission in nature. Using real-time PCR with reverse transcription, we detected SARS-CoV-2 in more than one-third (129 out of 360, 35.8%) of nasal swabs obtained from O. virginianus in northeast Ohio in the USA during January to March 2021. Deer in six locations were infected with three SARS-CoV-2 lineages (B.1.2, B.1.582 and B.1.596). The B.1.2 viruses, dominant in humans in Ohio at the time, infected deer in four locations. We detected probable deer-to-deer transmission of B.1.2, B.1.582 and B.1.596 viruses, enabling the virus to acquire amino acid substitutions in the spike protein (including the receptor-binding domain) and ORF1 that are observed infrequently in humans. No spillback to humans was observed, but these findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 viruses have been transmitted in wildlife in the USA, potentially opening new pathways for evolution. There is an urgent need to establish comprehensive 'One Health' programmes to monitor the environment, deer and other wildlife hosts globally.


Subject(s)
Animals, Wild/virology , COVID-19/veterinary , Deer/virology , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Viral Zoonoses/transmission , Viral Zoonoses/virology , Amino Acid Sequence , Amino Acid Substitution , Animals , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Evolution, Molecular , Humans , Male , Ohio/epidemiology , One Health/trends , SARS-CoV-2/chemistry , SARS-CoV-2/classification , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Viral Zoonoses/epidemiology
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