The SARS-CoV-2 Spike variant D614G favors an open conformational state.
The COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic underwent a rapid transition with the emergence of a dominant viral variant (from the "D-form" to the "G-form") that carried an amino acid substitution D614G in its "Spike" protein. The G-form is more infectious in vitro and is associated with increased viral loads in the upper airways. To gain insight into the molecular-level underpinnings of these characteristics, we used microsecond all-atom simulations. We show that changes in the protein energetics favor a higher population of infection-capable states in the G-form through release of asymmetry present in the D-form inter-protomer interactions. Thus, the increased infectivity of the G-form is likely due to a higher rate of profitable binding encounters with the host receptor. It is also predicted to be more neutralization sensitive owing to enhanced exposure of the receptor binding domain, a key target region for neutralizing antibodies. These results are critical for vaccine design.
Mansbach, RA; Chakraborty, S; Nguyen, K; Montefiori, DC; Korber, B; Gnanakaran, S
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