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The Evolution of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 during Pandemic and Adaptation to the Host
Journal of Molecular Evolution  (IF2.395),  Pub Date : 2021-05-15, DOI: 10.1007/s00239-021-10008-2
Snawar Hussain, Sahibzada Tasleem Rasool, Shinu Pottathil

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 is a zoonotic virus with a possible origin in bats and potential transmission to humans through an intermediate host. When zoonotic viruses jump to a new host, they undergo both mutational and natural selective pressures that result in non-synonymous and synonymous adaptive changes, necessary for efficient replication and rapid spread of diseases in new host species. The nucleotide composition and codon usage pattern of SARS-CoV-2 indicate the presence of a highly conserved, gene-specific codon usage bias. The codon usage pattern of SARS-CoV-2 is mostly antagonistic to human and bat codon usage. SARS-CoV-2 codon usage bias is mainly shaped by the natural selection, while mutational pressure plays a minor role. The time-series analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genome indicates that the virus is slowly evolving. Virus isolates from later stages of the outbreak have more biased codon usage and nucleotide composition than virus isolates from early stages of the outbreak.