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The SARS-CoV-2 S1 spike protein mutation N501Y alters the protein interactions with both hACE2 and human derived antibody: A Free energy of perturbation study

By Filip Fratev

Posted 26 Dec 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.12.23.424283

The N501Y and K417N mutations in spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and their combination arise questions but the data about their mechanism of action at molecular level is limited. Here, we present Free energy perturbation (FEP) calculations for the interactions of the spike S1 receptor binding domain (RBD) with both the ACE2 receptor and an antibody derived from COVID-19 patients. Our results shown that the S1 RBD-ACE2 interactions were significantly increased whereas those with the STE90-C11 antibody dramatically decreased; about over 100 times. The K417N mutation had much more pronounced effect and in a combination with N501Y fully abolished the antibody effect. This may explain the observed in UK and South Africa more spread of the virus but also raise an important question about the possible human immune response and the success of already available vaccines.

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