Evidence for mutations in SARS-CoV-2 Italian isolates potentially affecting virus transmission.J Med Virol. 2020 10; 92(10):2232-2237.JM
Italy is the first western country suffering heavy severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission and disease impact after coronavirus disease-2019 pandemia started in China. Even though the presence of mutations on spike glycoprotein and nucleocapsid in Italian isolates has been reported, the potential impact of these mutations on viral transmission has not been evaluated. We have compared SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences from Italian patients with virus sequences from Chinese patients. We focussed upon three nonsynonymous mutations of genes coding for S(one) and N (two) viral proteins present in Italian isolates and absent in Chinese ones, using various bioinformatics tools. Amino acid analysis and changes in three-dimensional protein structure suggests the mutations reduce protein stability and, particularly for S1 mutation, the enhanced torsional ability of the molecule could favor virus binding to cell receptor(s). This theoretical interpretation awaits experimental and clinical confirmation.