Recurrent mutations in SARS-CoV-2 genomes isolated from mink point to rapid host adaptation2*

November 16, 2020

Lucy van Dorp, Cedric CS Tan, Su Datt Lam, Damien Richard, Christopher Owen, Dorothea Berchtold, Christine Orengo, François Balloux


Given evidence of SARS-CoV-2 transmission on mink farms across Europe and in the USA, Van Dorp et al. sought to investigate secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between humans and minks. By screening 239 publicly available viral genome assemblies from farmed mink in the Netherlands and Denmark, the authors detected 23 recurrent mutations of the virus, including three nonsynonymous mutations in the receptor binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Based on repositories of SARS-CoV-2 strains circulating in humans, the mink-adapted mutations have occurred at a very low frequency, leading the authors to suggest these mutations should not increase virus transmission in humans. However, Van Dorp et al. suggest those mutations within the RBD spike protein should be monitored as it may have implications for antigenic response. Of note, The Lancet Infectious Diseases published a Comment by Dr. Marion Koopmans on the culling of mink in Denmark, reiterating the importance of surveillance for spillover of SARS-CoV-2.3* Please note all studies published in medRxiv and bioRxiv are preprints and have not yet undergone a rigorous peer review process.

Van Dorp L, Tan CC, Lam SD, et al. Recurrent mutations in SARS-CoV-2 genomes isolated from mink point to rapid host-adaptation. bioRxiv 2020: 2020.11.16.384743.