Detection of SARS-CoV-2 intra-host recombination during superinfection with Alpha and Epsilon variants in New York CityMore about Open Access at the Crick
Authors listPeter K Quashie Joel O Wertheim Jade C Wang Mindy Leelawong Darren P Martin Jennifer L Havens Moinuddin A Chowdhury Jonathan E Pekar Helly Amin Anthony Arroyo Gordon A Awandare Hoi Yan Chow Edimarlyn Gonzalez Elizabeth Luoma Collins M Morang'a Anton Nekrutenko Stephen D Shank Stefan Silver Jennifer L Rakeman Victoria Ruiz Lucia V Torian Tetyana I Vasylyeva Sergei L Kosakovsky Pond Scott Hughes
Recombination is an evolutionary process by which many pathogens generate diversity and acquire novel functions. Although a common occurrence during coronavirus replication, detection of recombination is only feasible when genetically distinct viruses contemporaneously infect the same host. Here, we identify an instance of SARS-CoV-2 superinfection, whereby an individual was infected with two distinct viral variants: Alpha (B.1.1.7) and Epsilon (B.1.429). This superinfection was first noted when an Alpha genome sequence failed to exhibit the classic S gene target failure behavior used to track this variant. Full genome sequencing from four independent extracts reveals that Alpha variant alleles comprise around 75% of the genomes, whereas the Epsilon variant alleles comprise around 20% of the sample. Further investigation reveals the presence of numerous recombinant haplotypes spanning the genome, specifically in the spike, nucleocapsid, and ORF 8 coding regions. These findings support the potential for recombination to reshape SARS-CoV-2 genetic diversity.