Natural selection and adaptation of SARS-CoV-2 in mammals

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Sumary of Natural selection and adaptation of SARS-CoV-2 in mammals:

  • Researchers of the Hubei University of Medicine, China, have analyzed several mutations in different variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from mammal species that suggest natural selection and host adaptation are occurring in the virus..
  • Context SARS-CoV-2 is the causative agent for the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which continues to be a global crisis..
  • Cats, dogs, lions, tigers, gorillas, snow leopards, white-tailed deer, ferrets and mink have all tested positive for having acquired SARS-CoV-2..
  • Acknowledging the mutations SARS-CoV-2 variant strains acquire in different animal species is also crucial in achieving this goal..
  • The study Professor Long Liu, of the Hubei University of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 found in different mammal species and compared these to the initial “Wuhan”.
  • The researchers then used an adaptive evolution server (Datamonkey) to identify branches where the virus had been under selective pressure..
  • Following this, Liu and colleagues used the codon adaptive index (CAI) to assess the variety of mutations between the different variants..
  • SARS-CoV-2 binds to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), an enzyme located on the outside of (primarily) respiratory cells, to access the cell..
  • The researchers recreated the structures of human ACE2 and the crystal complex of SARS-CoV-2 to model binding efficiency between variants..
  • Results The researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 of the mink cluster group had more substitution mutations compared to the reference strain..
  • say the authors, “The substitution of adenine in SARS-CoV-2 in other animals is threefold higher than that in mink-CoV.”.
  • Substitution of adenine and guanine was also 3x higher in nonsynonymous mutations than in synonymous mutations..
  • Variations in the spike protein were observed in all variants for animal species from the reference strain, D614G and A222V, most commonly found..
  • The researchers found that these sites, as well as sites 262 and 439, were exposed to strong positive selective pressure, while other sites (294, 413, 1018 and 1100) were negatively selected for..
  • (A) The evolutionary entropy of specific sites on the SARS-CoV-2 genome in all the GISAID sequences on February 1, 2021….

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