Genotype screening was implemented in Italy and showed a significant prevalence of new SARS-CoV-2 mutants carrying Q675H mutation, near the furin cleavage site of spike protein. Currently, this mutation, which is expressed on different SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating worldwide, has not been thoughtfully investigated. Therefore, we performed phylogenetic and biocomputational analysis to better understand SARS-CoV-2 Q675H mutants’ evolutionary relationships with other circulating lineages and Q675H function in its molecular context. Our studies reveal that Q675H spike mutation is the result of parallel evolution because it arose independently in separate evolutionary clades. In silico data show that the Q675H mutation gives rise to a hydrogen-bonds network in the spike polar region. This results in an optimized directionality of arginine residues involved in interaction of spike with the furin binding pocket, thus improving proteolytic exposure of the viral protein. Furin was predicted to have a greater affinity for Q675H than Q675 substrate conformations. As a consequence, Q675H mutation could confer a fitness advantage to SARS-CoV-2 by promoting a more efficient viral entry. Interestingly, here we have shown that Q675H spike mutation is documented in all the VOCs. This finding highlights that VOCs are still evolving to enhance viral fitness and to adapt to the human host. At the same time, it may suggest Q675H spike mutation involvement in SARS-CoV-2 evolution.

Role of Q675H mutation in improving SARS-CoV-2 spike interaction with the furin binding pocket

Bertelli A.;D'ursi P.;Campisi G.;Messali S.;Milanesi M.;Caccuri F.;Caruso A.
2021-01-01

Abstract

Genotype screening was implemented in Italy and showed a significant prevalence of new SARS-CoV-2 mutants carrying Q675H mutation, near the furin cleavage site of spike protein. Currently, this mutation, which is expressed on different SARS-CoV-2 lineages circulating worldwide, has not been thoughtfully investigated. Therefore, we performed phylogenetic and biocomputational analysis to better understand SARS-CoV-2 Q675H mutants’ evolutionary relationships with other circulating lineages and Q675H function in its molecular context. Our studies reveal that Q675H spike mutation is the result of parallel evolution because it arose independently in separate evolutionary clades. In silico data show that the Q675H mutation gives rise to a hydrogen-bonds network in the spike polar region. This results in an optimized directionality of arginine residues involved in interaction of spike with the furin binding pocket, thus improving proteolytic exposure of the viral protein. Furin was predicted to have a greater affinity for Q675H than Q675 substrate conformations. As a consequence, Q675H mutation could confer a fitness advantage to SARS-CoV-2 by promoting a more efficient viral entry. Interestingly, here we have shown that Q675H spike mutation is documented in all the VOCs. This finding highlights that VOCs are still evolving to enhance viral fitness and to adapt to the human host. At the same time, it may suggest Q675H spike mutation involvement in SARS-CoV-2 evolution.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11379/553449
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