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Spike mutation pipeline reveals the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2

By Bette T. Korber, WM Fischer, S Gnanakaran, H Yoon, J Theiler, W Abfalterer, B Foley, EE Giorgi, Tanmoy Bhattacharya, MD Parker, DG Partridge, CM Evans, TM Freeman, Thushan I. de Silva, on behalf of the Sheffield COVID-19 Genomics Group, CC LaBranche, David Montefiori

Posted 30 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.29.069054

We have developed an analysis pipeline to facilitate real-time mutation tracking in SARS-CoV-2, focusing initially on the Spike (S) protein because it mediates infection of human cells and is the target of most vaccine strategies and antibody-based therapeutics. To date we have identified fourteen mutations in Spike that are accumulating. Mutations are considered in a broader phylogenetic context, geographically, and over time, to provide an early warning system to reveal mutations that may confer selective advantages in transmission or resistance to interventions. Each one is evaluated for evidence of positive selection, and the implications of the mutation are explored through structural modeling. The mutation Spike D614G is of urgent concern; after beginning to spread in Europe in early February, when introduced to new regions it repeatedly and rapidly becomes the dominant form. Also, we present evidence of recombination between locally circulating strains, indicative of multiple strain infections. These finding have important implications for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, pathogenesis and immune interventions. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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