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COVID-19 Intelligence Report: Microbiology

May 18, 2020

Title: Emergence of genomic diversity and recurrent mutations in SARS-CoV-2

Publisher: Infection, Genetics, and Evolution (Elsevier)

Publication Date: May 5, 2020


Key Takeaway:  Researchers analyzed 7666 Sars-CoV-2 public genome assemblies with analysis pointing to a common ancestor near end of 2019, a moderate mutation rate, similar to other RNA viruses, no distinct phenotypes at this time, and identified 198 filtered independent recurrent mutations of the virus (homoplasies), with 80% of these producing non-synonymous changes at the protein level, suggesting areas of ongoing evolutionary adaptation of the virus. Areas that underwent large number of recurrent mutations (>15 events) include 3 sites in Orf1ab (encoding Nsp6, Nsp11, Nsp13 and one in the Spike protein, which may indicate areas of convergent evolution.  Continuing to monitor genetic diversity of this virus will be important to target vaccine development toward conserved genetic regions and to monitor for the development of antiviral drug resistance.

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