Link to HAL – pasteur-04067089
Link to DOI – 10.21203/rs.3.rs-1502293/v1
Abstract Recombination is a crucial process in the evolution of many organisms. Although the evolutionary reasons behind its occurrence in RNA viruses are debated, this phenomenon has been associated with major epidemiological events such as virus host range expansion, antigenic shift or variation in virulence 1,2, and this process occurs frequently in positive strand RNA viruses such as coronaviruses. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been associated with the repeated emergence of variants of concern presenting increased transmissibility, severity or immune escape 3. The recent extensive circulation of Delta worldwide and its subsequent replacement by viruses of the Omicron lineage 4 (BA.1 then BA.2), have created conditions for genetic exchanges between viruses with both genetic diversity and phenotypic specificities 5-7. Here we report the identification and in vitro and in vivo characterization of a Delta-Omicron recombinant in Europe. This recombinant exhibits immune escape properties similar to Omicron, while its behavior in mice expressing the human ACE2 receptor is more similar to Delta. This recombinant provides a unique and natural opportunity to better understand the genotype to phenotype links in SARS-CoV-2.