Emergence of a unique SARS-CoV-2 Delta sub-cluster harboring a constellation of co-appearing non-Spike mutations

Banerjee, A., Mazumder, A., Roy, J., Das, J., Majumdar, A., Chatterjee, A., ... & Maitra, A. (2023, janvier)

Journal of Medical Virology

Vol. 95/Issue1 | e28413

Accumulation of diverse mutations across the structural and nonstructural genes is leading to rapid evolution of SARS-CoV-2, altering its pathogenicity. We performed whole genome sequencing of 239 SARS-CoV-2 RNA samples collected from both adult and pediatric patients across eastern India (West Bengal), during the second pandemic wave in India (April–May 2021). In addition to several common spike mutations within the Delta variant, a unique constellation of eight co-appearing non-Spike mutations was identified, which revealed a high degree of positive mutual correlation. Our results also demonstrated the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 variants among unvaccinated pediatric patients. 41.4% of our studied Delta strains harbored this signature set of eight co-appearing non-Spike mutations and phylogenetically out-clustered other Delta sub-lineages like 21J, 21A, or 21I. This is the first report from eastern India that portrayed a landscape of co-appearing mutations in the non-Spike proteins, which might have led to the evolution of a distinct Delta subcluster. Accumulation of such mutations in SARS-CoV-2 may lead to the emergence of “vaccine-evading variants.” Hence, monitoring of such non-Spike mutations will be significant in the formulation of any future vaccines against those SARS-CoV-2 variants that might evade the current vaccine-induced immunity, among both the pediatric and adult populations.