Genetic alteration of human MYH6 is mimicked by SARS-CoV-2 polyprotein: mapping viral variants of cardiac interest

March 21 2022

Acute cardiac injury has been observed in a subset of COVID-19 patients, but the molecular basis for this clinical phenotype is unknown. It has been hypothesized that molecular mimicry may play a role in triggering an autoimmune inflammatory reaction in some individuals after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Here we investigate if linear peptides contained in proteins that are primarily expressed in the heart also occur in the SARS-CoV-2 proteome. Specifically, we compared the library of 136,704 8-mer peptides from 144 human proteins (including splicing variants) to 9,926 8-mers from all 17 viral proteins in the reference SARS-CoV-2 proteome. No 8-mers were exactly identical between the reference human proteome and the reference SARS-CoV-2 proteome. However, there were 45 8-mers that differed by only one amino acid when compared to the reference SARS-CoV-2 proteome. Interestingly, analysis of protein-coding mutations from 141,456 individuals showed that one of these 8-mers from the SARS-CoV-2 Replicase polyprotein 1a/1ab (KIALKGGK) is identical to a MYH6 peptide encoded by the c.5410C>A (Q1804K) genetic variation, which has been observed at low prevalence in Africans/African Americans (0.08%), East Asians (0.3%), South Asians (0.06%) and Latino/Admixed Americans (0.003%). Furthermore, analysis of 4.85 million SARS-CoV-2 genomes from over 200 countries shows that viral evolution has already resulted in 20 additional 8-mer peptides that are identical to human heart-enriched proteins encoded by reference sequences or genetic variants. Whether such mimicry contributes to cardiac inflammation during or after COVID-19 illness warrants further experimental evaluation. We suggest that SARS-CoV-2 variants harboring peptides identical to human cardiac proteins should be investigated as ‘viral variants of cardiac interest’.


Praveen Anand, Patrick J Lenehan, Michiel Niesen, Unice Yoo, Dhruti Patwardhan, Marcelo Montorzi, AJ Venkatakrishnan, Venky Soundararajan

nference, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA


Correspondence to:

Venky Soundararajan ( and AJ Venkatakrishnan (