- NSF-PAR ID:
- Yeager, Meredith
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Molecular Biology and Evolution
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- 3046 to 3059
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has resulted in the loss of millions of lives and severe global economic consequences. Every time SARS-CoV-2 replicates, the viruses acquire new mutations in their genomes. Mutations in SARS-CoV-2 genomes led to increased transmissibility, severe disease outcomes, evasion of the immune response, changes in clinical manifestations and reducing the efficacy of vaccines or treatments. To date, the multiple resources provide lists of detected mutations without key functional annotations. There is a lack of research examining the relationship between mutations and various factors such as disease severity, pathogenicity, patient age, patient gender, cross-species transmission, viral immune escape, immune response level, viral transmission capability, viral evolution, host adaptability, viral protein structure, viral protein function, viral protein stability and concurrent mutations. Deep understanding the relationship between mutation sites and these factors is crucial for advancing our knowledge of SARS-CoV-2 and for developing effective responses. To fill this gap, we built COV2Var, a function annotation database of SARS-CoV-2 genetic variation, available at http://biomedbdc.wchscu.cn/COV2Var/. COV2Var aims to identify common mutations in SARS-CoV-2 variants and assess their effects, providing a valuable resource for intensive functional annotations of common mutations among SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Building reliable phylogenies from very large collections of sequences with a limited number of phylogenetically informative sites is challenging because sequencing errors and recurrent/backward mutations interfere with the phylogenetic signal, confounding true evolutionary relationships. Massive global efforts of sequencing genomes and reconstructing the phylogeny of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) strains exemplify these difficulties since there are only hundreds of phylogenetically informative sites but millions of genomes. For such datasets, we set out to develop a method for building the phylogenetic tree of genomic haplotypes consisting of positions harboring common variants to improve the signal-to-noise ratio for more accurate and fast phylogenetic inference of resolvable phylogenetic features.
We present the TopHap approach that determines spatiotemporally common haplotypes of common variants and builds their phylogeny at a fraction of the computational time of traditional methods. We develop a bootstrap strategy that resamples genomes spatiotemporally to assess topological robustness. The application of TopHap to build a phylogeny of 68 057 SARS-CoV-2 genomes (68KG) from the first year of the pandemic produced an evolutionary tree of major SARS-CoV-2 haplotypes. This phylogeny is concordant with the mutation tree inferred using the co-occurrence pattern of mutations and recovers key phylogenetic relationships from more traditional analyses. We also evaluated alternative roots of the SARS-CoV-2 phylogeny and found that the earliest sampled genomes in 2019 likely evolved by four mutations of the most recent common ancestor of all SARS-CoV-2 genomes. An application of TopHap to more than 1 million SARS-CoV-2 genomes reconstructed the most comprehensive evolutionary relationships of major variants, which confirmed the 68KG phylogeny and provided evolutionary origins of major and recent variants of concern.
Availability and implementation
TopHap is available at https://github.com/SayakaMiura/TopHap.
Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.