L452R mutation potentially favors adaptive evolution of SARS-CoV-2

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A team of scientists from the United States recently investigated the mutational signatures in the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein. The findings reveal that the frequency of L452R mutation in the spike region has increased since November 2020. The L452R mutation, which is predicted to increase viral infectivity and host immune evasion potency, has been found to associate with a viral variant that has recently caused massive outbreaks in California. The study is currently available on the bioRxiv* preprint server.

Background

SARS-CoV-2, the causative pathogen of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is an enveloped RNA virus of the Coronaviridae family. Apart from the original Wuhan strain that emerged in December 2019, many distinct variants of SARS-CoV-2 containing several spike mutations are continuously appearing throughout the course of the pandemic. The majority of these variants contain mutations in the RBD of the spike protein, and thus, are considered as “variants of concern” because of their ability to increase viral infectivity, virulence, and immune evasion potency.

Of two domains (S1 and S2) of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, S1 interacts with the host cell angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor via the RBD…

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