Konzepte Corona

From Free Binding Energy Calculations of SARS-CoV-2—Receptor Interactions to Cellular Immune Responses

Our study focuses on free energy calculations of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor binding motives (RBMs) from wild type and variants of concern (VOCs), with emphasis on SARS-CoV-2 Omicron. Our computational analysis underlines the occurrence of positive selection processes that specify Omicron host adaption and bring changes on the molecular level into context with clinically relevant observations. Our free energy calculation studies regarding the interaction of Omicron’s RBM with human angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (hACE2) indicate weaker binding to the receptor than Alpha’s or Delta’s RBMs. Upon weaker binding, fewer viruses are predicted to be generated in time per infected cell, resulting in a delayed induction of danger signals as a trade-off. Along with delayed immunogenicity and pathogenicity, more viruses may be produced in the upper respiratory tract, explaining enhanced transmissibility. Since in interdependence on the human leukocyte antigen type (HLA type), more SARS-CoV-2 Omicron viruses are assumed to be required to initiate inflammatory immune responses, and because of pre-existing partial immunity through previous infections and/or vaccinations, which mostly guard the lower respiratory tract, overall disease severity is expected to be reduced.