Recurrent emergence of SARS-CoV-2 spike deletion H69/V70 and its role in the Alpha variant B.1.1.7

Meng, Bo, Kemp, Steven A, Papa, Guido, Datir, Rawlings, Ferreira, Isabella A.T.M., Marelli, Sara, Harvey, William T., Lytras, Spyros, Mohamed, Ahmed, Gallo, Giulia, Thakur, Nazia, Collier, Dami A., Mlcochova, Petra, The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, , Bailey, Dalan, Gupta, Ravindra K., Smith, Darren, Bashton, Matthew, Nelson, Andrew, Young, Greg, McCann, Clare and Yew, Wen Chyin (2021) Recurrent emergence of SARS-CoV-2 spike deletion H69/V70 and its role in the Alpha variant B.1.1.7. Cell Reports, 35 (13). p. 109292. ISSN 2211-1247

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We report severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike ΔH69/V70 in multiple independent lineages, often occurring after acquisition of receptor binding motif replacements such as N439K and Y453F, known to increase binding affinity to the ACE2 receptor and confer antibody escape. In vitro, we show that, although ΔH69/V70 itself is not an antibody evasion mechanism, it increases infectivity associated with enhanced incorporation of cleaved spike into virions. ΔH69/V70 is able to partially rescue infectivity of spike proteins that have acquired N439K and Y453F escape mutations by increased spike incorporation. In addition, replacement of the H69 and V70 residues in the Alpha variant B.1.1.7 spike (where ΔH69/V70 occurs naturally) impairs spike incorporation and entry efficiency of the B.1.1.7 spike pseudotyped virus. Alpha variant B.1.1.7 spike mediates faster kinetics of cell-cell fusion than wild-type Wuhan-1 D614G, dependent on ΔH69/V70. Therefore, as ΔH69/V70 compensates for immune escape mutations that impair infectivity, continued surveillance for deletions with functional effects is warranted.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Matthew Bashton, Darren L. Smith, Gregory R. Young, Clare McCann, Andrew Nelson and Wen Chyin Yew are members of the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium. Funding information: R.K.G. is supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship in Clinical Science (WT108082AIA). I.A.T.M.F. is funded by the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence fellowship (SANTHE, a DELTAS Africa Initiative; DEL-15–006). COG-UK is supported by funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC), part of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), and Genome Research Limited, operating as the Wellcome Sanger Institute. This study was supported by the Cambridge NIHRB Biomedical Research Centre. S.A.K. is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation via PANGEA grant OPP1175094. D.L.R. is funded by the MRC (MC UU 1201412). W.H. is funded by the MRC (MR/R024758/1). We thank James Voss for the kind gift of HeLa cells stably expressing ACE2, Paul Lehner for Calu-3 cells, and Simon Cook for H1299 cells. N.J.M. is funded by the MRC (CSF ref. MR/P008801/1), NHSBT (grant ref. WPA15-02), and the Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust, Cambridge University Hospitals (grant ref. 900239). We thank Wendy Barclay and Thomas Peacock for helpful discussions and the Geno2pheno UK Consortium. S.L. is funded by Medical Research Council MCUU12014/12. This study was also partly funded by the Rosetrees Trust. A.M.L. is funded by the Cambridge NIHRB Biomedical Research Centre.
Uncontrolled Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, antibody escape, neutralizing antibodies, infectivity, spike mutation, Alpha variant, resistance, B.1.1.7, deletion
Subjects: C500 Microbiology
C700 Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Applied Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2021 15:59
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2021 10:45

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