Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein sequence variations in ASEAN countries
BACKGROUND Nucleocapsid (N) protein is one of four structural proteins of SARS-CoV-2 which is known to be more conserved than spike protein and is highly immunogenic. This study aimed to analyze the variation of the SARS-CoV-2 N protein sequences in ASEAN countries, including Indonesia.
METHODS Complete sequences of SARS-CoV-2 N protein from each ASEAN country were obtained from Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), while the reference sequence was obtained from GenBank. All sequences collected from December 2019 to March 2021 were grouped to the clade according to GISAID, and two representative isolates were chosen from each clade for the analysis. The sequences were aligned by MUSCLE, and phylogenetic trees were built using MEGA-X software based on the nucleotide and translated AA sequences.
RESULTS 98 isolates of complete N protein genes from ASEAN countries were analyzed. The nucleotides of all isolates were 97.5% conserved. Of 31 nucleotide changes, 22 led to amino acid (AA) substitutions; thus, the AA sequences were 94.5% conserved. The phylogenetic tree of nucleotide and AA sequences shows similar branches. Nucleotide variations in clade O (C28311T); clade GR (28881–28883 GGG>AAC); and clade GRY (28881–28883 GGG>AAC and C28977T) lead to specific branches corresponding to the clade within both trees.
CONCLUSIONS The N protein sequences of SARS-CoV-2 across ASEAN countries are highly conserved. Most isolates were closely related to the reference sequence originating from China, except the isolates representing clade O, GR, and GRY which formed specific branches in the phylogenetic tree.
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