The high infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 is associated with increased interaction force between Spike-ACE2 caused by the viral N501Y mutation

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
J. C. Santos, Geraldo A Passos


The Spike glycoprotein receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 mediates the viral particle's binding to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor on the surface of human cells. Therefore, Spike-ACE2 interaction is a crucial determining factor for viral infectivity. A new phylogenetic group of SARS-CoV-2 (lineage B.1.1.7) has been recently identified in the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium dataset, which features an amino acid substitution in the Spike RBD (N501Y mutation). Infections with the SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7 have been overgrowing in recent weeks in the United Kingdom, indicating an even greater spread capacity than that seen with previous strains of the novel coronavirus. We hypothesized that this rapid spreading/infectivity of the B.1.1.7 lineage might be due to changes in the interaction force between the mutant Spike RBD and ACE2. This study employed in silico methods involving mutagenesis (N501Y mutation) and interface analysis focusing on the Spike RDB-ACE2 interaction. The results showed that the SARS-CoV-2 N501Y mutant (lineage B.1.1.7) establishes a more significant number of interactions relating to the mutant residue Y501 (Spike RDB) with residues Y41 and K353 (ACE2). This finding shows that th...Continue Reading


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