Assessment of mutations on RBD in the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 Alpha, Delta and Omicron variants.Sci Rep. 2022 May 20; 12(1):8540.SR
The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 (CoV-2) variant Omicron spread more rapid than the other variants of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Mutations on the Spike (S) protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) are critical for the antibody resistance and infectivity of the SARS-CoV-2 variants. In this study, we have used accelerated molecular dynamics (aMD) simulations and free energy calculations to present a systematic analysis of the affinity and conformational dynamics along with the interactions that drive the binding between Spike protein RBD and human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. We evaluate the impacts of the key mutation that occur in the RBDs Omicron and other variants in the binding with the human ACE2 receptor. The results show that S protein Omicron has stronger binding to the ACE2 than other variants. The evaluation of the decomposition energy per residue shows the mutations N440K, T478K, Q493R and Q498R observed in Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 provided a stabilization effect for the interaction between the SARS-CoV-2 RBD and ACE2. Overall, the results demonstrate that faster spreading of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron may be correlated with binding affinity of S protein RBD to ACE2 and mutations of uncharged residues to positively charged residues such as Lys and Arg in key positions in the RBD.