bioRxiv | 2021
A unique view of SARS-CoV-2 through the lens of ORF8 protein
Immune evasion is one of the unique characteristics of COVID-19 attributed to the ORF8 protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This protein is involved in modulating the host adaptive immunity through downregulating MHC (Major Histocompatibility Complex) molecules and innate immune responses by surpassing the interferon mediated antiviral response of the host. To understand the immune perspective of the host with respect to the ORF8 protein, a comprehensive study of the ORF8 protein as well as mutations possessed by it, is performed. Chemical and structural properties of ORF8 proteins from different hosts, that is human, bat and pangolin, suggests that the ORF8 of SARS-CoV-2 and Bat RaTG13-CoV are very much closer related than that of Pangolin-CoV. Eighty-seven mutations across unique variants of ORF8 (SARS-CoV-2) are grouped into four classes based on their predicted effects. Based on geolocations and timescale of collection, a possible flow of mutations was built. Furthermore, conclusive flows of amalgamation of mutations were endorsed upon sequence similarity and amino acid conservation phylogenies. Therefore, this study seeks to highlight the uniqueness of rapid evolving SARS-CoV-2 through the ORF8.