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Spread of Mink SARS-CoV-2 Variants in Humans: A Model of Sarbecovirus Interspecies Evolution

Abstract : The rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants has quickly spanned doubts and the fear about their ability escape vaccine protection. Some of these variants initially identified in caged were also found in humans. The claim that these variants exhibited lower susceptibility to antibody neutralization led to the slaughter of 17 million minks in Denmark. SARS-CoV-2 prevalence tests led to the discovery of infected farmed minks worldwide. In this study, we revisit the issue of the circulation of SARS-CoV-2 variants in minks as a model of sarbecovirus interspecies evolution by: (1) comparing human and mink angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and neuropilin 1 (NRP-1) receptors; (2) comparing SARS-CoV-2 sequences from humans and minks; (3) analyzing the impact of mutations on the 3D structure of the spike protein; and (4) predicting linear epitope targets for immune response. Mink-selected SARS-CoV-2 variants carrying the Y453F/D614G mutations display an increased affinity for human ACE2 and can escape neutralization by one monoclonal antibody. However, they are unlikely to lose most of the major epitopes predicted to be targets for neutralizing antibodies. We discuss the consequences of these results for the rational use of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.
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Submitted on : Friday, November 19, 2021 - 4:15:30 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 1, 2022 - 3:44:09 AM

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Christian Devaux, Lucile Pinault, Jérémy Delerce, Didier Raoult, Anthony Levasseur, et al.. Spread of Mink SARS-CoV-2 Variants in Humans: A Model of Sarbecovirus Interspecies Evolution. Frontiers in Microbiology, 2021, 12, ⟨10.3389/fmicb.2021.675528⟩. ⟨hal-03437032⟩



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