Evolution of SARS-CoV-2 Envelope, Membrane, Nucleocapsid, and Spike Structural Proteins from the Beginning of the Pandemic to September 2020: A Global and Regional Approach by Epidemiological Week.Viruses. 2021 02 04; 13(2)V
Monitoring acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) genetic diversity and emerging mutations in this ongoing pandemic is crucial for understanding its evolution and assuring the performance of diagnostic tests, vaccines, and therapies against coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This study reports on the amino acid (aa) conservation degree and the global and regional temporal evolution by epidemiological week for each residue of the following four structural SARS-CoV-2 proteins: spike, envelope, membrane, and nucleocapsid. All, 105,276 worldwide SARS-CoV-2 complete and partial sequences from 117 countries available in the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) from 29 December 2019 to 12 September 2020 were downloaded and processed using an in-house bioinformatics tool. Despite the extremely high conservation of SARS-CoV-2 structural proteins (>99%), all presented aa changes, i.e., 142 aa changes in 65 of the 75 envelope aa, 291 aa changes in 165 of the 222 membrane aa, 890 aa changes in 359 of the 419 nucleocapsid aa, and 2671 changes in 1132 of the 1273 spike aa. Mutations evolution differed across geographic regions and epidemiological weeks (epiweeks). The most prevalent aa changes were D614G (81.5%) in the spike protein, followed by the R203K and G204R combination (37%) in the nucleocapsid protein. The presented data provide insight into the genetic variability of SARS-CoV-2 structural proteins during the pandemic and highlights local and worldwide emerging aa changes of interest for further SARS-CoV-2 structural and functional analysis.