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Review

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variants of Concern: A Perspective for Emerging More Transmissible and Vaccine-Resistant Strains

1
Department of Microbiology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo 05508-000, Brazil
2
Centro de Oncologia Molecular, Hospital Sírio Libanes, São Paulo 01308-060, Brazil
3
Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Chemistry, University of São Paulo, São Paulo 05508-000, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Elmostafa Bahraoui and Remi Planes
Viruses 2022, 14(4), 827; https://doi.org/10.3390/v14040827
Received: 17 February 2022 / Revised: 29 March 2022 / Accepted: 1 April 2022 / Published: 16 April 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue SARS-CoV-2 Innate and Adaptive Immune Responses)
Novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern (VOC) are constantly threatening global public health. With no end date, the pandemic persists with the emergence of novel variants that threaten the effectiveness of diagnostic tests and vaccines. Mutations in the Spike surface protein of the virus are regularly observed in the new variants, potentializing the emergence of novel viruses with different tropism from the current ones, which may change the severity and symptoms of the disease. Growing evidence has shown that mutations are being selected in favor of variants that are more capable of evading the action of neutralizing antibodies. In this context, the most important factor guiding the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is its interaction with the host’s immune system. Thus, as current vaccines cannot block the transmission of the virus, measures complementary to vaccination, such as the use of masks, hand hygiene, and keeping environments ventilated remain essential to delay the emergence of new variants. Importantly, in addition to the involvement of the immune system in the evolution of the virus, we highlight several chemical parameters that influence the molecular interactions between viruses and host cells during invasion and are also critical tools making novel variants more transmissible. In this review, we dissect the impacts of the Spike mutations on biological parameters such as (1) the increase in Spike binding affinity to hACE2; (2) bound time for the receptor to be cleaved by the proteases; (3) how mutations associate with the increase in RBD up-conformation state in the Spike ectodomain; (4) expansion of uncleaved Spike protein in the virion particles; (5) increment in Spike concentration per virion particles; and (6) evasion of the immune system. These factors play key roles in the fast spreading of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, including the Omicron. View Full-Text
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 variants; transmissibility; viral load; sensitivity to antisera SARS-CoV-2 variants; transmissibility; viral load; sensitivity to antisera
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MDPI and ACS Style

de Souza, A.S.; de Freitas Amorim, V.M.; Guardia, G.D.A.; dos Santos, F.F.; Ulrich, H.; Galante, P.A.F.; de Souza, R.F.; Guzzo, C.R. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variants of Concern: A Perspective for Emerging More Transmissible and Vaccine-Resistant Strains. Viruses 2022, 14, 827. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14040827

AMA Style

de Souza AS, de Freitas Amorim VM, Guardia GDA, dos Santos FF, Ulrich H, Galante PAF, de Souza RF, Guzzo CR. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variants of Concern: A Perspective for Emerging More Transmissible and Vaccine-Resistant Strains. Viruses. 2022; 14(4):827. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14040827

Chicago/Turabian Style

de Souza, Anacleto S., Vitor M. de Freitas Amorim, Gabriela D.A. Guardia, Filipe F. dos Santos, Henning Ulrich, Pedro A.F. Galante, Robson F. de Souza, and Cristiane R. Guzzo. 2022. "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Variants of Concern: A Perspective for Emerging More Transmissible and Vaccine-Resistant Strains" Viruses 14, no. 4: 827. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14040827

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