The SARS-CoV-2 Spike mutation D614G increases entry fitness across a range of ACE2 levels, directly outcompetes the wild type, and is preferentially incorporated into trimers

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
W. A. MichaudS. Alireza Rabi

Abstract

Early in the current pandemic, the D614G mutation arose in the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and quickly became the dominant variant globally. Mounting evidence suggests D614G enhances viral entry. Here we use a direct competition assay with single-cycle viruses to show that D614G outcompetes the wildtype. We developed a cell line with inducible ACE2 expression to confirm that D614G more efficiently enters cells with ACE2 levels spanning the different primary cells targeted by SARS-CoV-2. Using a new assay for crosslinking and directly extracting Spike trimers from the pseudovirus surface, we found an increase in trimerization efficiency and viral incorporation of D614G protomers. Our findings suggest that D614G increases infection of cells expressing a wide range of ACE2, and informs the mechanism underlying enhanced entry. The tools developed here can be broadly applied to study other Spike variants and SARS-CoV-2 entry, to inform functional studies of viral evolution and vaccine development.

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