Molecular Insights into the Adaptive Evolution of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein


Prof. Jian Lu published a review in Journal of infection.

The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has substantially damaged the global economy and human health. The spike (S) protein of coronaviruses plays a pivotal role in viral entry by binding to host cell receptors. Additionally, it acts as the primary target for neutralizing antibodies in those infected and is the central focus for currently utilized or researched vaccines. During the virus's adaptation to the human host, the S protein of SARS-CoV-2 has undergone significant evolution. As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, new mutations have arisen and vanished, giving rise to distinctive amino acid profiles within VOC strains of SARS-CoV-2. Notably, many of these changes in the S protein have been positively selected, leading to substantial alterations in viral characteristics, such as heightened transmissibility and immune evasion capabilities. This review aims to provide an overview of our current understanding of the structural implications associated with key amino acid changes in the S protein of SARS-CoV-2. These research findings shed light on the intricate and dynamic nature of viral evolution, underscoring the importance of continuous monitoring and analysis of viral genomes. Through these molecular-level investigations, we can attain deeper insights into the virus's adaptive evolution, offering valuable guidance for designing vaccines and developing antiviral drugs to combat the ever-evolving viral threats.

Original link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinf.2024.106121.