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In Computational and structural biotechnology journal

The global pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to spread. Infection with SARS- CoV-2 causes COVID-19, a disease of variable severity. Mutation has already altered the SARS-CoV-2 genome from its original reported sequence and continued mutation is highly probable. These mutations can: (i) have no significant impact (they are silent), (ii) result in a complete loss or reduction of infectivity, or (iii) induce increase in infectivity. Physical generation, for research purposes, of viral mutations that could enhance infectivity are controversial and highly regulated. The primary purpose of this project was to evaluate the ability of the DeepNEU machine learning stem-cell simulation platform to enable rapid and efficient assessment of the potential impact of viral loss-of-function (LOF) and gain-of-function (GOF) mutations on SARS-CoV-2 infectivity. Our data suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection can be simulated in human alveolar type lung cells. Simulation of infection in these lung cells can be used to model and assess the impact of LOF and GOF mutations in the SARS-CoV2 genome. We have also created a four- factor infectivity measure: the DeepNEU Case Fatality Rate (dnCFR). dnCFR can be used to assess infectivity based on the presence or absence of the key viral proteins (NSP3, Spike-RDB, N protein, and M protein). dnCFR was used in this study, not to only assess the impact of different mutations on SARS-CoV2 infectivity, but also to categorize the effects of mutations as loss of infectivity or gain of infectivity events.

Esmail Sally, Danter Wayne R

2021

Infectivity, Lung organoid, Machine learning, SARS-CoV2 evolution, Simulations of COVID-19, Viral mutations