Comparative Perturbation-Based Modeling of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Binding with Host Receptor and Neutralizing Antibodies: Structurally Adaptable Allosteric Communication Hotspots Define Spike Sites Targeted by Global Circulating Mutations.

Gennady M VerkhivkerGrace Gupta


In this study, we used an integrative computational approach to examine molecular mechanisms and determine functional signatures underlying the role of functional residues in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that are targeted by novel mutational variants and antibody-escaping mutations. Atomistic simulations and functional dynamics analysis are combined with alanine scanning and mutational sensitivity profiling of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein complexes with the ACE2 host receptor and the REGN-COV2 antibody cocktail(REG10987+REG10933). Using alanine scanning and mutational sensitivity analysis, we have shown that K417, E484, and N501 residues correspond to key interacting centers with a significant degree of structural and energetic plasticity that allow mutants in these positions to afford the improved binding affinity with ACE2. Through perturbation-based network modeling and community analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein complexes with ACE2, we demonstrate that E406, N439, K417, and N501 residues serve as effector centers of allosteric interactions and anchor major intermolecular communities that mediate long-range communication in the complexes. The results provide support to a model according to which mutational variants an...Continue Reading


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