Computational Analysis of Mutations in the Receptor-Binding Domain of SARS-CoV-2 Spike and Their Effects on Antibody Binding.
Currently, SARS-CoV-2 causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is responsible for one of the most deleterious pandemics of our time. The interaction between the ACE2 receptors at the surface of human cells and the viral Spike (S) protein triggers the infection, making the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 S-protein a focal target for the neutralizing antibodies (Abs). Despite the recent progress in the development and deployment of vaccines, the emergence of novel variants of SARS-CoV-2 insensitive to Abs produced in response to the vaccine administration and/or monoclonal ones represent a potential danger. Here, we analyzed the diversity of neutralizing Ab epitopes and assessed the possible effects of single and multiple mutations in the RBD of SARS-CoV-2 S-protein on its binding affinity to various antibodies and the human ACE2 receptor using bioinformatics approaches. The RBD-Ab complexes with experimentally resolved structures were grouped into four clusters with distinct features at sequence and structure level. The performed computational analysis indicates that while single amino acid replacements in RBD may only cause partial impairment of the Abs binding, moreover, limited to specific epitopes, the variants of SARS-CoV-2 with multiple mutations, including some which were already detected in the population, may potentially result in a much broader antigenic escape. Further analysis of the existing RBD variants pointed to the trade-off between ACE2 binding and antigenic escape as a key limiting factor for the emergence of novel SAR-CoV-2 strains, as the naturally occurring mutations in RBD tend to reduce its binding affinity to Abs but not to ACE2. The results provide guidelines for further experimental studies aiming to identify high-risk RBD mutations that allow for an antigenic escape.
COVID19 Disease Map, a computational knowledge repository of virus-host interaction mechanisms.
Molecular systems biology. 2021;(10):e10387
We need to effectively combine the knowledge from surging literature with complex datasets to propose mechanistic models of SARS-CoV-2 infection, improving data interpretation and predicting key targets of intervention. Here, we describe a large-scale community effort to build an open access, interoperable and computable repository of COVID-19 molecular mechanisms. The COVID-19 Disease Map (C19DMap) is a graphical, interactive representation of disease-relevant molecular mechanisms linking many knowledge sources. Notably, it is a computational resource for graph-based analyses and disease modelling. To this end, we established a framework of tools, platforms and guidelines necessary for a multifaceted community of biocurators, domain experts, bioinformaticians and computational biologists. The diagrams of the C19DMap, curated from the literature, are integrated with relevant interaction and text mining databases. We demonstrate the application of network analysis and modelling approaches by concrete examples to highlight new testable hypotheses. This framework helps to find signatures of SARS-CoV-2 predisposition, treatment response or prioritisation of drug candidates. Such an approach may help deal with new waves of COVID-19 or similar pandemics in the long-term perspective.
Contriving Multi-Epitope Subunit of Vaccine for COVID-19: Immunoinformatics Approaches.
Frontiers in immunology. 2020;:1784
COVID-19 has recently become the most serious threat to public health, and its prevalence has been increasing at an alarming rate. The incubation period for the virus is ~1-14 days and all age groups may be susceptible to a fatality rate of about 5.9%. COVID-19 is caused by a novel single-stranded, positive (+) sense RNA beta coronavirus. The development of a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent need worldwide. Immunoinformatics approaches are both cost-effective and convenient, as in silico predictions can reduce the number of experiments needed. In this study, with the aid of immunoinformatics tools, we tried to design a multi-epitope vaccine that can be used for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The epitopes were computed by using B cells, cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), and helper T lymphocytes (HTL) base on the proteins of SARS-CoV-2. A vaccine was devised by fusing together the B cell, HTL, and CTL epitopes with linkers. To enhance the immunogenicity, the β-defensin (45 mer) amino acid sequence, and pan-HLA DR binding epitopes (13aa) were adjoined to the N-terminal of the vaccine with the help of the EAAAK linker. To enable the intracellular delivery of the modeled vaccine, a TAT sequence (11aa) was appended to C-terminal. Linkers play vital roles in producing an extended conformation (flexibility), protein folding, and separation of functional domains, and therefore, make the protein structure more stable. The secondary and three-dimensional (3D) structure of the final vaccine was then predicted. Furthermore, the complex between the final vaccine and immune receptors (toll-like receptor-3 (TLR-3), major histocompatibility complex (MHC-I), and MHC-II) were evaluated by molecular docking. Lastly, to confirm the expression of the designed vaccine, the mRNA of the vaccine was enhanced with the aid of the Java Codon Adaptation Tool, and the secondary structure was generated from Mfold. Then we performed in silico cloning. The final vaccine requires experimental validation to determine its safety and efficacy in controlling SARS-CoV-2 infections.