The current pandemic of COVID-19 is fueled by more infectious emergent Omicron variants. Ongoing concerns of emergent variants include possible recombinants, as genome recombination is an important evolutionary mechanism for the emergence and re-emergence of human viral pathogens. In this study, we identified diverse recombination events between two Omicron major subvariants (BA.1 and BA.2) and other variants of concern (VOCs) and variants of interest (VOIs), suggesting that co-infection and subsequent genome recombination play important roles in the ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2. Through scanning high-quality completed Omicron spike gene sequences, 18 core mutations of BA.1 (frequency >99%) and 27 core mutations of BA.2 (nine more than BA.1) were identified, of which 15 are specific to Omicron. BA.1 subvariants share nine common amino acid mutations (three more than BA.2) in the spike protein with most VOCs, suggesting a possible recombination origin of Omicron from these VOCs. There are three more Alpha-related mutations in BA.1 than BA.2, and BA.1 is phylogenetically closer to Alpha than other variants. Revertant mutations are found in some dominant mutations (frequency >95%) in the BA.1. Most notably, multiple characteristic amino acid mutations in the Delta spike protein have been also identified in the “Deltacron”-like Omicron Variants isolated since November 11, 2021 in South Africa, which implies the recombination events occurring between the Omicron and Delta variants. Monitoring the evolving SARS-CoV-2 genomes especially for recombination is critically important for recognition of abrupt changes to viral attributes including its epitopes which may call for vaccine modifications.

Fuente: Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy

Published: 26 April 2022