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1.
PLoS One ; 16(7): e0255169, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1323022

ABSTRACT

Since the first case of COVID-19 in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, SARS-CoV-2 has spread worldwide and within a year and a half has caused 3.56 million deaths globally. With dramatically increasing infection numbers, and the arrival of new variants with increased infectivity, tracking the evolution of its genome is crucial for effectively controlling the pandemic and informing vaccine platform development. Our study explores evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in a representative cohort of sequences covering the entire genome in the United States, through all of 2020 and early 2021. Strikingly, we detected many accumulating Single Nucleotide Variations (SNVs) encoding amino acid changes in the SARS-CoV-2 genome, with a pattern indicative of RNA editing enzymes as major mutators of SARS-CoV-2 genomes. We report three major variants through October of 2020. These revealed 14 key mutations that were found in various combinations among 14 distinct predominant signatures. These signatures likely represent evolutionary lineages of SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S. and reveal clues to its evolution such as a mutational burst in the summer of 2020 likely leading to a homegrown new variant, and a trend towards higher mutational load among viral isolates, but with occasional mutation loss. The last quartile of 2020 revealed a concerning accumulation of mostly novel low frequency replacement mutations in the Spike protein, and a hypermutable glutamine residue near the putative furin cleavage site. Finally, end of the year data and 2021 revealed the gradual increase to prevalence of known variants of concern, particularly B.1.1.7, that have acquired additional Spike mutations. Overall, our results suggest that predominant viral genomes are dynamically evolving over time, with periods of mutational bursts and unabated mutation accumulation. This high level of existing variation, even at low frequencies and especially in the Spike-encoding region may become problematic when super-spreader events, akin to serial Founder Events in evolution, drive these rare mutations to prominence.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Evolution, Molecular , Founder Effect , Genome, Viral , Mutation , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/genetics , Humans , United States
2.
Nature ; 592(7852): 122-127, 2021 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1104508

ABSTRACT

During the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in humans, a D614G substitution in the spike glycoprotein (S) has emerged; virus containing this substitution has become the predominant circulating variant in the COVID-19 pandemic1. However, whether the increasing prevalence of this variant reflects a fitness advantage that improves replication and/or transmission in humans or is merely due to founder effects remains unknown. Here we use isogenic SARS-CoV-2 variants to demonstrate that the variant that contains S(D614G) has enhanced binding to the human cell-surface receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), increased replication in primary human bronchial and nasal airway epithelial cultures as well as in a human ACE2 knock-in mouse model, and markedly increased replication and transmissibility in hamster and ferret models of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our data show that the D614G substitution in S results in subtle increases in binding and replication in vitro, and provides a real competitive advantage in vivo-particularly during the transmission bottleneck. Our data therefore provide an explanation for the global predominance of the variant that contains S(D614G) among the SARS-CoV-2 viruses that are currently circulating.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Mutation , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Virus Replication/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/genetics , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/metabolism , Animals , Bronchi/cytology , Bronchi/virology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cell Line , Cells, Cultured , Cricetinae , Disease Models, Animal , Epithelial Cells/virology , Female , Ferrets/virology , Founder Effect , Gene Knock-In Techniques , Genetic Fitness , Humans , Male , Mesocricetus , Mice , Nasal Mucosa/cytology , Nasal Mucosa/virology , Protein Binding , RNA, Viral/analysis , Receptors, Coronavirus/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity
3.
J Virol ; 95(3)2021 01 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1028435

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) whole-genome analysis has identified five large clades worldwide which emerged in 2019 (19A and 19B) and in 2020 (20A, 20B, and 20C). This study aimed to analyze the diffusion of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain using maximum-likelihood phylogenetic and Bayesian phylodynamic analyses. The most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic was estimated to have emerged in Wuhan, China, around 24 November 2019. Phylogenetic analyses of the first 12,511 SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequences obtained worldwide, including 290 from 11 different regions of Spain, revealed 62 independent introductions of the virus in the country. Most sequences from Spain were distributed in clades characterized by a D614G substitution in the S gene (20A, 20B, and 20C) and an L84S substitution in ORF8 (19B) with 163 and 118 sequences, respectively, with the remaining sequences branching in 19A. A total of 110 (38%) sequences from Spain grouped in four different monophyletic clusters of clade 20A (20A-Sp1 and 20A-Sp2) and 19B clade (19B-Sp1 and 19B-Sp2) along with sequences from 29 countries worldwide. The MRCAs of clusters 19A-Sp1, 20A-Sp1, 19A-Sp2, and 20A-Sp2 were estimated to have occurred in Spain around 21 and 29 January and 6 and 17 February 2020, respectively. The prevalence of clade 19B in Spain (40%) was by far higher than in any other European country during the first weeks of the epidemic, probably as a result of a founder effect. However, this variant was replaced by G614-bearing viruses in April. In vitro assays showed an enhanced infectivity of pseudotyped virions displaying the G614 substitution compared with those having D614, suggesting a fitness advantage of D614G.IMPORTANCE Multiple SARS-CoV-2 introductions have been detected in Spain, and at least four resulted in the emergence of locally transmitted clusters that originated not later than mid-February, with further dissemination to many other countries around the world, and a few weeks before the explosion of COVID-19 cases detected in Spain during the first week of March. The majority of the earliest variants detected in Spain branched in the clade 19B (D614 viruses), which was the most prevalent clade during the first weeks of March, pointing to a founder effect. However, from mid-March to June 2020, G614-bearing viruses (clades 20A, 20B, and 20C) overcame D614 variants in Spain, probably as a consequence of an evolutionary advantage of this substitution in the spike protein. A higher infectivity of G614-bearing viruses than D614 variants was detected, suggesting that this substitution in SARS-CoV-2 spike protein could be behind the variant shift observed in Spain.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/transmission , COVID-19/virology , Founder Effect , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Genetic Fitness , Genetic Variation , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Phylogeny , Phylogeography , Prevalence , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Spain/epidemiology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics
4.
Zool Res ; 41(6): 605-620, 2020 Nov 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-771125

ABSTRACT

Spain has been one of the main global pandemic epicenters for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Here, we analyzed >41 000 genomes (including >26 000 high-quality (HQ) genomes) downloaded from the GISAID repository, including 1 245 (922 HQ) sampled in Spain. The aim of this study was to investigate genome variation of novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and reconstruct phylogeographic and transmission patterns in Spain. Phylogeographic analysis suggested at least 34 independent introductions of SARS-CoV-2 to Spain at the beginning of the outbreak. Six lineages spread very successfully in the country, probably favored by super-spreaders, namely, A2a4 (7.8%), A2a5 (38.4%), A2a10 (2.8%), B3a (30.1%), and B9 (8.7%), which accounted for 87.9% of all genomes in the Spanish database. One distinct feature of the Spanish SARS-CoV-2 genomes was the higher frequency of B lineages (39.3%, mainly B3a+B9) than found in any other European country. While B3a, B9, (and an important sub-lineage of A2a5, namely, A2a5c) most likely originated in Spain, the other three haplogroups were imported from other European locations. The B3a strain may have originated in the Basque Country from a B3 ancestor of uncertain geographic origin, whereas B9 likely emerged in Madrid. The time of the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) of SARS-CoV-2 suggested that the first coronavirus entered the country around 11 February 2020, as estimated from the TMRCA of B3a, the first lineage detected in the country. Moreover, earlier claims that the D614G mutation is associated to higher transmissibility is not consistent with the very high prevalence of COVID-19 in Spain when compared to other countries with lower disease incidence but much higher frequency of this mutation (56.4% in Spain vs. 82.4% in rest of Europe). Instead, the data support a major role of genetic drift in modeling the micro-geographic stratification of virus strains across the country as well as the role of SARS-CoV-2 super-spreaders.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , Genetic Variation , Genome, Viral/genetics , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , Animals , Betacoronavirus/classification , Betacoronavirus/physiology , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Evolution, Molecular , Founder Effect , Geography , Haplotypes , Humans , Mutation , Pandemics , Phylogeny , Phylogeography , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/virology , SARS-CoV-2 , Spain/epidemiology
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