Effects of common mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike RBD and its ligand the human ACE2 receptor on binding affinity and kinetics.
Barton MI., MacGowan SA., Kutuzov MA., Dushek O., Barton GJ., van der Merwe PA.
The interaction between the SARS-CoV-2 virus Spike protein receptor binding domain (RBD) and the ACE2 cell surface protein is required for viral infection of cells. Mutations in the RBD are present in SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern that have emerged independently worldwide. For example, the B.1.1.7 lineage has a mutation (N501Y) in its Spike RBD that enhances binding to ACE2. There are also ACE2 alleles in humans with mutations in the RBD binding site. Here we perform a detailed affinity and kinetics analysis of the effect of five common RBD mutations (K417N, K417T, N501Y, E484K and S477N) and two common ACE2 mutations (S19P and K26R) on the RBD/ACE2 interaction. We analysed the effects of individual RBD mutations, and combinations found in new SARS-CoV-2 Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351) and Gamma (P1) variants. Most of these mutations increased the affinity of the RBD/ACE2 interaction. The exceptions were mutations K417N/T, which decreased the affinity. Taken together with other studies, our results suggest that the N501Y and S477N mutations enhance transmission primarily by enhancing binding, the K417N/T mutations facilitate immune escape, and the E484K mutation enhances binding and immune escape.