Science

Researchers identify two novel variants in SARS-CoV-2 gene sequences collected from mink

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on March 30, 2021

SARS-COV-2 is a RNA virus and mutations arive naturally as the virus replicates, said the BMJ

Canadian researchers have found two novel variants in SARS-CoV-2 gene sequences collected from mink in the US.

The team identified a two-mutation (N501T-G142D) variant and a three-mutation (N501T-G142D-F486L) variant in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

The two variants were not found in mink-derived SARS-CoV-2 gene sequences collected in any other country.

The researchers said their findings suggested that the variants evolved during human infection before they spread to mink populations.

The team said it is important to examine the emerging new variants to determine their impact on human and animal health.

Last year in Denmark, large numbers of mink were found to be infected with SARS-CoV-2. Millions of minks were killed on government orders to contain the spread of the virus.

For the new study, the researchers intended to determine the genetic characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein sequences collected from mink in the US and Canada.

They analysed sequences collected in Canada (19,529) and those collected in the US (173,277).

The researchers identified two dominant novel variants in spike protein sequences collected from mink in the US – the double mutation N501T-G142D and the triple mutation N501T-G142D-F486L.

The team discovered that both the N501T-G142D and N501T-G142D-F486L variants were identified in the human-derived sequences before they were identified in the mink-derived sequences.

“The results of this study indicate that the novel variants may have evolved during human infection and were then transmitted to mink populations in the US,” wrote the team.

“It is important to monitor the emerging new variants and determine their impact on human and animal health,” they concluded.

The findings of the study were published on the pre-print server medRxiv* server.

Published on March 29, 2021

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