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1.
Preprint Dans Anglais | medRxiv | ID: ppmedrxiv-22278553

Résumé

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated its ability to rapidly and continuously evolve, leading to the emergence of thousands of different sequence variants, many with distinctive phenotypic properties. Fortunately, the broad availability of next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies across the globe has produced a wealth of SARS- CoV-2 genome sequences, offering a comprehensive picture of how this virus is evolving so that accurate diagnostics and reliable therapeutics for COVID-19 can be maintained. The millions of SARS-CoV-2 sequences deposited into genomic sequencing databases, including GenBank, BV-BRC, and GISAID are annotated with the dates and geographical regions of sample collection, and can be aligned to the Wuhan-Hu-1 reference genome to extract the constellation of nucleotide and amino acid substitutions. By aggregating these data into concise datasets, the spread of variants through space and time can be assessed. Variant tracking efforts have focused on the spike protein due to its critical role in viral tropism and antibody neutralization. To identify emerging variants of concern as early as possible, we developed a computational pipeline to process the genomic data from public databases and assign risk scores based on both epidemiological and functional parameters. Epidemiological dynamics are used to identify variants exhibiting substantial growth over time and across geographical regions. In addition, experimental data that quantify Spike protein regions critical for adaptive immunity are used to predict variants with consequential immunogenic or pathogenic impacts. These growth assessment and functional impact scores are combined to produce a Composite Score for any set of Spike substitutions detected. With this systematic approach to routinely score and rank emerging variants, we have established a method to identify threatening variants early and prioritize them for experimental evaluation.

2.
Preprint Dans Anglais | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-463779

Résumé

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) replication transcription complex (RTC) is a multi-domain protein responsible for replicating and transcribing the viral mRNA inside a human cell. Attacking RTC function with pharmaceutical compounds is a pathway to treating COVID-19. Conventional tools, e.g., cryo-electron microscopy and all-atom molecular dynamics (AAMD), do not provide sufficiently high resolution or timescale to capture important dynamics of this molecular machine. Consequently, we develop an innovative workflow that bridges the gap between these resolutions, using mesoscale fluctuating finite element analysis (FFEA) continuum simulations and a hierarchy of AI-methods that continually learn and infer features for maintaining consistency between AAMD and FFEA simulations. We leverage a multi-site distributed workflow manager to orchestrate AI, FFEA, and AAMD jobs, providing optimal resource utilization across HPC centers. Our study provides unprecedented access to study the SARS-CoV-2 RTC machinery, while providing general capability for AI-enabled multi-resolution simulations at scale.

3.
Preprint Dans Anglais | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-461949

Résumé

The ARTIC Network provides a common resource of PCR primer sequences and recommendations for amplifying SARS-CoV-2 genomes. The initial tiling strategy was developed with the reference genome Wuhan-01, and subsequent iterations have addressed areas of low amplification and sequence drop out. Recently, a new version (V4) was released, based on new variant genome sequences, in response to the realization that some V3 primers were located in regions with key mutations. Herein, we compare the performance of the ARTIC V3 and V4 primer sets with a matched set of 663 SARS-CoV-2 clinical samples sequenced with an Illumina NovaSeq 6000 instrument. We observe general improvements in sequencing depth and quality, and improved resolution of the SNP causing the D950N variation in the spike protein. Importantly, we also find nearly universal presence of spike protein substitution G142D in Delta-lineage samples. Due to the prior release and widespread use of the ARTIC V3 primers during the initial surge of the Delta variant, it is likely that the G142D amino acid substitution is substantially underrepresented among early Delta variant genomes deposited in public repositories. In addition to the improved performance of the ARTIC V4 primer set, this study also illustrates the importance of the primer scheme in downstream analyses. ImportanceARTIC Network primers are commonly used by laboratories worldwide to amplify and sequence SARS-CoV-2 present in clinical samples. As new variants have evolved and spread, it was found that the V3 primer set poorly amplified several key mutations. In this report, we compare the results of sequencing a matched set of samples with the V3 and V4 primer sets. We find that adoption of the ARTIC V4 primer set is critical for accurate sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 spike region. The absence of metadata describing the primer scheme used will negatively impact the downstream use of publicly available SARS-Cov-2 sequencing reads and assembled genomes.

4.
Preprint Dans Anglais | bioRxiv | ID: ppbiorxiv-437323

Résumé

Despite the recent availability of vaccines against the acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the search for inhibitory therapeutic agents has assumed importance especially in the context of emerging new viral variants. In this paper, we describe the discovery of a novel non-covalent small-molecule inhibitor, MCULE-5948770040, that binds to and inhibits the SARS-Cov-2 main protease (Mpro) by employing a scalable high throughput virtual screening (HTVS) framework and a targeted compound library of over 6.5 million molecules that could be readily ordered and purchased. Our HTVS framework leverages the U.S. supercomputing infrastructure achieving nearly 91% resource utilization and nearly 126 million docking calculations per hour. Downstream biochemical assays validate this Mpro inhibitor with an inhibition constant (Ki) of 2.9 {micro}M [95% CI 2.2, 4.0]. Further, using room-temperature X-ray crystallography, we show that MCULE-5948770040 binds to a cleft in the primary binding site of Mpro forming stable hydrogen bond and hydrophobic interactions. We then used multiple {micro}s-timescale molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, and machine learning (ML) techniques to elucidate how the bound ligand alters the conformational states accessed by Mpro, involving motions both proximal and distal to the binding site. Together, our results demonstrate how MCULE-5948770040 inhibits Mpro and offers a springboard for further therapeutic design. O_TEXTBOXSignificance StatementThe ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has prompted a global race towards finding effective therapeutics that can target the various viral proteins. Despite many virtual screening campaigns in development, the discovery of validated inhibitors for SARS-CoV-2 protein targets has been limited. We discover a novel inhibitor against the SARS-CoV-2 main protease. Our integrated platform applies downstream biochemical assays, X-ray crystallography, and atomistic simulations to obtain a comprehensive characterization of its inhibitory mechanism. Inhibiting Mpro can lead to significant biomedical advances in targeting SARS-CoV-2 treatment, as it plays a crucial role in viral replication. C_TEXTBOX

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