Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in domestic cats imposes a narrow bottleneck
Katarina M Braun,
Gage K Moreno,
Emma B Hodcroft,
David A. Baker,
Emma C Boehm,
Andrea M Weiler,
Amelia K. Haj,
David H O'Connor,
Thomas C Friedrich
Posted 17 Nov 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.11.16.384917
Posted 17 Nov 2020
The evolutionary mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 viruses adapt to mammalian hosts and, potentially, undergo antigenic evolution depend on the ways genetic variation is generated and selected within and between individual hosts. Using domestic cats as a model, we show that SARS-CoV-2 consensus sequences remain largely unchanged over time within hosts, while dynamic sub-consensus diversity reveals processes of genetic drift and weak purifying selection. We further identify a notable variant at amino acid position 655 in Spike (H655Y), which was previously shown to confer escape from human monoclonal antibodies. This variant arises rapidly and persists at intermediate frequencies in index cats. It also becomes fixed following transmission in two of three pairs. These dynamics suggest this site may be under positive selection in this system and illustrate how a variant can quickly arise and become fixed in parallel across multiple transmission pairs. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in cats involved a narrow bottleneck, with new infections founded by fewer than ten viruses. In RNA virus evolution, stochastic processes like narrow transmission bottlenecks and genetic drift typically act to constrain the overall pace of adaptive evolution. Our data suggest that here, positive selection in index cats followed by a narrow transmission bottleneck may have instead accelerated the fixation of S H655Y, a potentially beneficial SARS-CoV-2 variant. Overall, our study suggests species- and context-specific adaptations are likely to continue to emerge. This underscores the importance of continued genomic surveillance for new SARS-CoV-2 variants as well as heightened scrutiny for signatures of SARS-CoV-2 positive selection in humans and mammalian model systems. Author summaryThrough ongoing human adaptation, spill-back events from other animal intermediates, or with the distribution of vaccines and therapeutics, the landscape of SARS-CoV-2 genetic variation is certain to change. The evolutionary mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 will continue to adapt to mammalian hosts depend on genetic variation generated within and between hosts. Here, using domestic cats as a model, we show that within-host SARS-CoV-2 genetic variation is predominantly influenced by genetic drift and purifying selection. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between hosts is defined by a narrow transmission bottleneck, involving 2-5 viruses. We further identify a notable variant at amino acid position 655 in Spike (H655Y), which arises rapidly and is transmitted in cats. Spike H655Y has been previously shown to confer escape from human monoclonal antibodies and is currently found in over 1000 human sequences. Overall, our study suggests species- and context-specific adaptations are likely to continue to emerge, underscoring the importance of continued genomic surveillance in humans and non-human mammalian hosts.
- Downloaded 1,476 times
- Download rankings, all-time:
- Site-wide: 15,844
- In microbiology: 919
- Year to date:
- Site-wide: 11,952
- Since beginning of last month:
- Site-wide: 126,091
Downloads over time
Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide
- 27 Nov 2020: The website and API now include results pulled from medRxiv as well as bioRxiv.
- 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
- 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
- 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
- 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
- 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
- 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
- 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
- 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!