INTRODUCTION: The spike (S) of SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) engages angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) on a host cell to trigger viral-cell membrane fusion and infection. The extracellular region of ACE2 can be administered as a soluble decoy to compete for binding sites on the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of S, but it has only moderate affinity and efficacy. The RBD, which is targeted by neutralizing antibodies, may also change and adapt through mutation as SARS-CoV-2 becomes endemic, posing challenges for therapeutic and vaccine development.
AREAS COVERED: Deep mutagenesis is a Big Data approach to characterizing sequence variants. A deep mutational scan of ACE2 expressed on human cells identified mutations that increase S affinity and guided the engineering of a potent and broad soluble receptor decoy. A deep mutational scan of the RBD displayed on the surface of yeast has revealed residues tolerant of mutational changes that may act as a source for drug resistance and antigenic drift.
EXPERT OPINION: Deep mutagenesis requires a selection of diverse sequence variants; an in vitro evolution experiment that is tracked with next-generation sequencing. The choice of expression system, diversity of the variant library and selection strategy have important consequences for data quality and interpretation.
- Deep mutational scan
- mutational landscape
- decoy receptor
- severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
- SARS coronavirus 2
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology