Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

The SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein D614G Mutation Shows Increasing Dominance and May Confer a Structural Advantage to the Furin Cleavage Domain

Version 1 : Received: 24 May 2020 / Approved: 24 May 2020 / Online: 24 May 2020 (20:31:16 CEST)

How to cite: Tang, L.; Schulkins, A.; Chen, C.; Deshayes, K.; Kenney, J.S. The SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein D614G Mutation Shows Increasing Dominance and May Confer a Structural Advantage to the Furin Cleavage Domain. Preprints 2020, 2020050407 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202005.0407.v1). Tang, L.; Schulkins, A.; Chen, C.; Deshayes, K.; Kenney, J.S. The SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein D614G Mutation Shows Increasing Dominance and May Confer a Structural Advantage to the Furin Cleavage Domain. Preprints 2020, 2020050407 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202005.0407.v1).

Abstract

We analyzed the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) protein amino acid sequence extracted from 11,542 viral genomic sequences submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) database through April 27, 2020. Consistent with prior reports, we found a major S protein mutation, D614 to G614, that was represented in 56% of all the analyzed sequences. All other mutations combined were less than 10%. After parsing the data geographically, we found most of the Chinese patient samples showed D614 (97%). By contrast, most patient samples in many European countries showed G614 (51 to 88%). In the United States, the genotypic distribution in California and Washington was similar to Asian countries, while the distribution in other US states was comparable to Europe. We observed a dramatic increase in the frequency of G614 over time in multiple regions, surpassing D614 when both were present, suggesting G614 S protein virus outcompetes D614 S protein virus. To gain insight into the consequences of the D614G mutation, homology modeling using a multi-template threading mechanism with ab initio structural refinement was performed for a region of the S protein (S591 to N710) spanning the D614G mutation and the S1 furin cleavage site. Molecular models of this region containing D614 or G614 revealed a major difference in secondary structure at the furin domain (RRARS, R682 to S686). The D614 model predicted a random coil structure in the furin domain whereas the G614 model predicted an alpha helix. Critical residues in the cleavage domain of G614 model were found to better align with the PDB structure of a furin inhibitor. Thus, homology modeling studies suggest a potential mechanism whereby the D614G mutation may confer a competitive advantage at the furin binding domain that may contribute to the rise of the D614G SARS-CoV-2 mutant.

Subject Areas

SARS-CoV-2; spike protein; D614G mutation; genotype distribution; furin cleavage site; secondary structure; sequence analysis; homology modeling

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