Evolution of increased positive charge on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein may be adaptation to human transmission

Cotten, M. and Phan, M. V.T. (2023) Evolution of increased positive charge on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein may be adaptation to human transmission. iScience, 26(3), 106230. (doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.106230) (PMID:36845032) (PMCID:PMC9937996)

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The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) continues to evolve and infect individuals. The exterior surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virion is dominated by the spike protein, and the current work examined spike protein biochemical features that have changed during the 3 years in which SARS-CoV-2 has infected humans. Our analysis identified a striking change in spike protein charge, from −8.3 in the original Lineage A and B viruses to −1.26 in most of the current Omicron viruses. We conclude that in addition to immune selection pressure, the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 has also altered viral spike protein biochemical properties, which may influence virion survival and promote transmission. Future vaccine and therapeutic development should also exploit and target these biochemical properties.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC/UK Research and Innovation) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under the MRC/DFID Concordat agreement (grant agreement no.: MC_PC_20010) and Wellcome Trust, UK FCDO-Wellcome Epidemic Preparedness-Coronavirus (grant agreement no.: 220977/Z/20/Z).
Keywords:Evolutionary biology, virology.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cotten, Professor Matthew
Authors: Cotten, M., and Phan, M. V.T.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Infection & Immunity > Centre for Virus Research
Journal Name:iScience
Publisher:Elsevier (Cell Press)
ISSN (Online):2589-0042
Published Online:18 February 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in iScience 26(3): 106230
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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