Mapping Potential Antigenic Drift Sites (PADS) on SARS-CoV-2 Spike in Continuous Epitope-Paratope Space

bioRxiv. 2021 Jun 8;2021.06.07.446560. doi: 10.1101/2021.06.07.446560. Preprint


SARS-CoV-2 mutations with antigenic effects pose a risk to immunity developed through vaccination and natural infection. While vaccine updates for current variants of concern (VOCs) are underway, it is likewise important to prepare for further antigenic mutations as the virus navigates the heterogeneous global landscape of host immunity. Toward this end, a wealth of data and tools exist that can augment existing genetic surveillance of VOC evolution. In this study, we integrate published datasets describing genetic, structural, and functional constraints on mutation along with computational analyses of antibody-spike co-crystal structures to identify a set of potential antigenic drift sites (PADS) within the receptor binding domain (RBD) and N-terminal domain (NTD) of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Further, we project the PADS set into a continuous epitope-paratope space to facilitate interpretation of the degree to which newly observed mutations might be antigenically synergistic with existing VOC mutations, and this representation suggests that functionally convergent and synergistic antigenic mutations are accruing across VOC NTDs. The PADS set and synergy visualization serve as a reference as new mutations are detected on VOCs, enable proactive investigation of potentially synergistic mutations, and offer guidance to antibody and vaccine design efforts.

Publication types

  • Preprint