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Analysis of the mutation dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 reveals the spread history and emergence of RBD mutant with lower ACE2 binding affinity

By Yong Jia, Gangxu Shen, Yujuan Zhang, Keng-Shiang Huang, Hsing-Ying Ho, Wei-Shio Hor, Chih-Hui Yang, Chengdao Li, Wei-Lung Wang

Posted 11 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.09.034942

Monitoring the mutation dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 is critical for the development of effective approaches to contain the pathogen. By analyzing 106 SARS-CoV-2 and 39 SARS genome sequences, we provided direct genetic evidence that SARS-CoV-2 has a much lower mutation rate than SARS. Minimum Evolution phylogeny analysis revealed the putative original status of SARS-CoV-2 and the early-stage spread history. The discrepant phylogenies for the spike protein and its receptor binding domain proved a previously reported structural rearrangement prior to the emergence of SARS-CoV-2. Despite that we found the spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 is particularly more conserved, we identified a mutation that leads to weaker receptor binding capability, which concerns a SARS-CoV-2 sample collected on 27th January 2020 from India. This represents the first report of a significant SARS-CoV-2 mutant, and raises the alarm that the ongoing vaccine development may become futile in future epidemic if more mutations were identified. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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