Comprehensive analysis of genomic diversity of SARS-CoV-2 in different geographic regions of India: An endeavour to classify Indian SARS-CoV-2 strains on the basis of co-existing mutations

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Author Name

Rakesh Sarkar

Suvrotoa Mitra

Pritam Chandra

Priyanka Saha

Anindita Banerjee

Shanta Dutta

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Accumulation of mutations within the genome is the primary driving force for viral evolution within an endemic setting. This inherent feature often leads to altered virulence, infectivity and transmissibility as well as antigenic shift to escape host immunity, which might compromise the efficacy of vaccines and antiviral drugs. Therefore, we aimed at genome-wide analyses of circulating SARS-CoV-2 viruses for the emergence of novel co-existing mutations and trace their spatial distribution within India. Comprehensive analysis of whole genome sequences of 441 Indian SARS-CoV-2 strains revealed the occurrence of 33 different mutations, 21 being distinctive to India. Emergence of novel mutations were observed in S glycoprotein (7/33), NSP3 (6/33), RdRp/NSP12 (4/33), NSP2 (2/33) and N (2/33). Non-synonymous mutations were found to be 3.4 times more prevalent than synonymous mutations. We classified the Indian isolates into 22 groups based on the co-existing mutations. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that representative strain of each group divided themselves into various sub-clades within their respective clades, based on the presence of unique co-existing mutations. India was dominated by A2a clade (55.60%) followed by A3 (37.38%) and B (7%), but exhibited heterogeneous distribution among various geographical regions. The A2a clade mostly predominated in East India, Western India and Central India, whereas A3 clade prevailed in South and North India. In conclusion, this study highlights the divergent evolution of SARS-CoV-2 strains and co-circulation of multiple clades in India. Monitoring of the emerging mutations would pave ways for vaccine formulation and designing of antiviral drugs. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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