Membrane fusion and immune evasion by the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant

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bioRxiv. 2021 Aug 17:2021.08.17.456689. doi: 10.1101/2021.08.17.456689. Preprint.


The Delta variant of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has outcompeted previously prevalent variants and become a dominant strain worldwide. We report here structure, function and antigenicity of its full-length spike (S) trimer in comparison with those of other variants, including Gamma, Kappa, and previously characterized Alpha and Beta. Delta S can fuse membranes more efficiently at low levels of cellular receptor ACE2 and its pseudotyped viruses infect target cells substantially faster than all other variants tested, possibly accounting for its heightened transmissibility. Mutations of each variant rearrange the antigenic surface of the N-terminal domain of the S protein in a unique way, but only cause local changes in the receptor-binding domain, consistent with greater resistance particular to neutralizing antibodies. These results advance our molecular understanding of distinct properties of these viruses and may guide intervention strategies.

PMID:34426810 | PMC:PMC8382121 | DOI:10.1101/2021.08.17.456689