Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variants of Concern: A Perspective for Emerging more Transmissible and Vaccine-Resistant Strains

Version 1 : Received: 17 February 2022 / Approved: 22 February 2022 / Online: 22 February 2022 (02:59:33 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

de Souza, A.S.; de Freitas Amorim, V.M.; Guardia, G.D.A.; dos Santos, F.F.; Ulrich, H.; Galante, P.A.F.; de Souza, R.F.; Guzzo, C.R. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variants of Concern: A Perspective for Emerging More Transmissible and Vaccine-Resistant Strains. Viruses 2022, 14, 827. de Souza, A.S.; de Freitas Amorim, V.M.; Guardia, G.D.A.; dos Santos, F.F.; Ulrich, H.; Galante, P.A.F.; de Souza, R.F.; Guzzo, C.R. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variants of Concern: A Perspective for Emerging More Transmissible and Vaccine-Resistant Strains. Viruses 2022, 14, 827.

Journal reference: Viruses 2022, 14, 827
DOI: 10.3390/v14040827

Abstract

Novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern (VOC) are constantly threatening global public health. With no end date, the pandemic still persists with the emergence of novel variants that threaten the effectiveness of diagnostic tests and vaccines. Mutations in the Spike surface protein of the virus are regularly observed in the new variants, potentializing the emergence of novel viruses with different tropism from the current ones, which may change the severity and symptoms of the disease. Growing evidence has shown that mutations are being selected in favor of variants that are more capable of evading the action of neutralizing antibodies. In this context, the most important factor guiding the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is its interaction with the host’s immune system. Thus, as current vaccines cannot block the transmission of the virus, measures complementary to vaccination, such as the use of masks, hand hygiene, and keeping environments ventilated remain essential to delay the emergence of new variants. Importantly, in addition to the involvement of the immune system in the evolution of the virus, we highlight several chemical parameters that influence the molecular interactions between viruses and host cells during invasion and are also critical tools making novel variants more transmissible. In this review, we dissect the impacts of the Spike mutations on biological parameters such as (1) increase of Spike binding affinity to hACE2; (2) bound time for the receptor to be cleaved by the proteases; (3) how mutations associate with increase of RBD up-conformation state in the Spike ectodomain; (4) expansion of uncleaved Spike protein in the virion particles; (5) increment of Spike concentration per virion particles; and (6) evasion of the immune system. These factors play key roles in the fast spreading of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, including the Omicron.

Keywords

SARS-CoV-2 variants; transmissibility; viral load; sensitivity to antisera

Subject

LIFE SCIENCES, Virology

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