Different scenarios explaining the emergence of novel variants of concern (VOC) of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been reported, including their evolution in scarcely monitored populations, in animals as alternative hosts, or in immunocompromised individuals. Here we report SARS-CoV-2 immune escape mutations over a period of seven months in an immunocompromised patient with prolonged viral shedding. Signs of infection, viral shedding and mutation events are periodically analyzed using RT-PCR and next-generation sequencing based on naso-pharyngeal swabs, with the results complemented by immunological diagnostics to determine humoral and T cell immune responses. Throughout the infection course, 17 non-synonymous intra-host mutations are noted, with 15 (88.2%) having been previously described as prominent immune escape mutations (S:E484K, S:D950N, S:P681H, S:N501Y, S:del(9), N:S235F and S:H655Y) in VOCs. The high frequency of these non-synonymous mutations is consistent with multiple events of convergent evolution. Thus, our results suggest that specific mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 genome may represent positions with a fitness advantage, and may serve as targets in future vaccine and therapeutics development for COVID-19.

Fuente: Nature Communications