With the continual evolution of new strains of SARS-CoV-2 that are more virulent, transmissible, and able to evade current vaccines, there is an urgent need for effective anti-viral drugs SARS-CoV-2 main protease (Mpro) is a leading target for drug design due to its conserved and indispensable role in the viral life cycle. Drugs targeting Mpro appear promising but will elicit selection pressure for resistance. To understand resistance potential in Mpro, we performed a comprehensive mutational scan of the protease that analyzed the function of all possible single amino acid changes. We developed three separate high-throughput assays of Mpro function in yeast, based on either the ability of Mpro variants to cleave at a defined cut-site or on the toxicity of their expression to yeast. We used deep sequencing to quantify the functional effects of each variant in each screen. The protein fitness landscapes from all three screens were strongly correlated, indicating that they captured the biophysical properties critical to Mpro function. The fitness landscapes revealed a non-active site location on the surface that is extremely sensitive to mutation making it a favorable location to target with inhibitors. In addition, we found a network of critical amino acids that physically bridge the two active sites of the Mpro dimer. The clinical variants of Mpro were predominantly functional in our screens, indicating that Mpro is under strong selection pressure in the human population. Our results provide predictions of mutations that will be readily accessible to Mpro evolution and that are likely to contribute to drug resistance. This complete mutational guide of Mpro can be used in the design of inhibitors with reduced potential of evolving viral resistance.
Next generation sequencing data has been deposited to the NCBI short read archive (PRJNA842255). Tabulated raw counts of all variants in all replicates are included in Figure 2 - source data 1. Figure 2 - source data 1, Figure 4 - source data 1, Figure 4 - source data 2, and Figure 5 - source data 1 contain the data used to generate all the figures.
Comprehensive fitness landscape of SARS-CoV-2 Mpro in S. cerevisiae - raw sequence readsNCBI Short Read Archive, PRJNA842255.
- Julia M Flynn
- Neha Samant
- Gily Schneider-Nachum
- Nese Kurt Yilmaz
- Celia A Schiffer
- Daniel NA Bolon
DTB, SAM, and DD are employees of Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research and were involved in study design, data interpretation, and preparation of this manuscript.
- C Brandon Ogbunugafor, Yale University, United States
- Received: January 28, 2022
- Accepted: June 17, 2022
- Accepted Manuscript published: June 20, 2022 (version 1)
© 2022, Flynn et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) are agents of horizontal gene transfer in bacteria, but can also be vertically inherited by daughter cells. Establishing the dynamics that led to contemporary patterns of MGEs in bacterial genomes is central to predicting the emergence and evolution of novel and resistant pathogens. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) clonal-complex (CC) 398 is the dominant MRSA in European livestock and a growing cause of human infections. Previous studies have identified three categories of MGEs whose presence or absence distinguishes livestock-associated CC398 from a closely related and less antibiotic-resistant human-associated population. Here, we fully characterise the evolutionary dynamics of these MGEs using a collection of 1180 CC398 genomes, sampled from livestock and humans, over 27 years. We find that the emergence of livestock-associated CC398 coincided with the acquisition of a Tn916 transposon carrying a tetracycline resistance gene, which has been stably inherited for 57 years. This was followed by the acquisition of a type V SCCmec that carries methicillin, tetracycline, and heavy metal resistance genes, which has been maintained for 35 years, with occasional truncations and replacements with type IV SCCmec. In contrast, a class of prophages that carry a human immune evasion gene cluster and that are largely absent from livestock-associated CC398 have been repeatedly gained and lost in both human- and livestock-associated CC398. These contrasting dynamics mean that when livestock-associated MRSA is transmitted to humans, adaptation to the human host outpaces loss of antibiotic resistance. In addition, the stable inheritance of resistance-associated MGEs suggests that the impact of ongoing reductions in antibiotic and zinc oxide use in European farms on livestock-associated MRSA will be slow to be realised.
Despite decades of research, knowledge about the genes that are important for development and function of the mammalian eye and are involved in human eye disorders remains incomplete. During mammalian evolution, mammals that naturally exhibit poor vision or regressive eye phenotypes have independently lost many eye-related genes. This provides an opportunity to predict novel eye-related genes based on specific evolutionary gene loss signatures. Building on these observations, we performed a genome-wide screen across 49 mammals for functionally uncharacterized genes that are preferentially lost in species exhibiting lower visual acuity values. The screen uncovered several genes, including SERPINE3, a putative serine proteinase inhibitor. A detailed investigation of 381 additional mammals revealed that SERPINE3 is independently lost in 18 lineages that typically do not primarily rely on vision, predicting a vision-related function for this gene. To test this, we show that SERPINE3 has the highest expression in eyes of zebrafish and mouse. In the zebrafish retina, serpine3 is expressed in Müller glia cells, a cell type essential for survival and maintenance of the retina. A CRISPR-mediated knockout of serpine3 in zebrafish resulted in alterations in eye shape and defects in retinal layering. Furthermore, two human polymorphisms that are in linkage with SERPINE3 are associated with eye-related traits. Together, these results suggest that SERPINE3 has a role in vertebrate eyes. More generally, by integrating comparative genomics with experiments in model organisms, we show that screens for specific phenotype-associated gene signatures can predict functions of uncharacterized genes.