Effects of common mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike RBD domain and its ligand the human ACE2 receptor on binding affinity and kinetics

Michael I. Barton, Stuart MacGowan, Mikhail Kutuzov, Omer Dushek, Geoffrey J. Barton, P. Anton van der Merwe (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Abstract

The interaction between the SARS-CoV-2 virus Spike protein receptor binding domain (RBD) and the ACE2 cell surface protein is required for viral infection of cells. Mutations in the RBD domain are present in SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern that have emerged independently worldwide. For example, the more transmissible B.1.1.7 lineage has a mutation (N501Y) in its Spike RBD domain that enhances binding to ACE2. There are also ACE2 alleles in humans with mutations in the RBD binding site. Here we perform a detailed affinity and kinetics analysis of the effect of five common RBD mutations (K417N, K417T, N501Y, E484K and S477N) and two common ACE2 mutations (S19P and K26R) on the RBD/ACE2 interaction. We analysed the effects of individual RBD mutations, and combinations found in new SARS-CoV-2 variants first identified in the UK (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351) and Brazil (P1). Most of these mutations increased the affinity of the RBD/ACE2 interaction. The exceptions were mutations K417N/T, which decreased the affinity. Taken together with other studies, our results suggest that the N501Y and S477N mutations primarily enhance transmission, the K417N/T mutations facilitate immune escape, and the E484K mutation facilitates both transmission and immune escape.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherBioRxiv
Number of pages39
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2021

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