Spratt AN, Kannan SR, Woods LT, Weisman GA, Quinn TP, Lorson CL, Sönnerborg A, Byrareddy SN, Singh K
Comput Struct Biotechnol J - (-) - [2021-06-24; online 2021-06-24]
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections remain unmanageable in some parts of the world. As with other RNA viruses, mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 gene have been continuously evolving. Recently, four variants have been identified, B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1 and CAL.20C. These variants appear to be more infectious and transmissible than the original Wuhan-Hu-1 virus. Using a combination of bioinformatics and structural analyses, we show that the new SARS-CoV-2 variants emerged in the background of an already known Spike protein mutation D614G together with another mutation P323L in the RNA polymerase of SARS-CoV-2. The phylogenetic analysis showed that the CAL.20C and B.1.351 shared one common ancestor, whereas the B.1.1.7 and P.1 shared a different ancestor. Structural comparisons did not show any significant difference between the wild-type and mutant ACE2/Spike complexes. Structural analysis indicated that the N501Y mutation may increase hydrophobic interactions at the ACE2/Spike interface. However, reported greater binding affinity of N501Y Spike with ACE2 does not seem to be entirely due to increased hydrophobic interactions, given that Spike mutation R417T in P.1 or K417N in B.1.351 results in the loss of a salt-bridge interaction between ACE2 and S-RBD. The calculated change in free energy did not provide a clear trend of S protein stability of mutations in the variants. As expected, we show that the CAL.20C generally migrated from the west coast to the east coast of the USA. Taken together, the analyses suggest that the evolution of variants and their infectivity is complex and may depend upon many factors.