Is This The Next Variant Of Concern— C.1.2?

A new and unusual variant of SARS-CoV-2  has appeared and is on the move.  First noted in South Africa in May, the C.1.2 variant is now found in eight countries. Although C.1.2 is at present a minor variant wherever it occurs, the virus shares several mutations with all of the variants of concern, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Lambda. It also has several novel mutations that cause concern in their own right (Figure 1). To this point, the majority of research on SARS-CoV-2 variants has focused on the Spike protein. This leaves mutations in nonstructural proteins, 3’ structural proteins, and 3’ regulatory (accessory) proteins relatively uninvestigated, despite playing a significant role in host immune suppression and pathogenesis. Here we describe the potential effects of each mutation, within and external to the Spike protein, on replication, immune evasion, and pathogenesis.

Mutations in the 5’ region that encodes the non-structural proteins (NSP1-16) proteins of  the replication-transcription complex

The mutation closest to the 5’ end of the genome is the C241U nucleotide substitution. This mutation, along with P323L in nonstructural protein 12 and D614G in the Spike protein, constitute a highly conserved triad in almost all SARS-Cov-2 strains today. The trio initially arose very early in the pandemic and is found today in all variants of tests or concerns. I speculate that C241U changes the structure of stem-loop 5, potentially increasing replication, transcription, and translation. Such conservation would be unusual for a mutation of little consequence.

Read the full article on Forbes.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.