Home / Science / SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus has a “camouflage” that causes cells to fail to recognize it – “Fundamental advance in our understanding of the virus”

SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus has a “camouflage” that causes cells to fail to recognize it – “Fundamental advance in our understanding of the virus”

Corona virus camouflage concept

Discovery lays the foundation for the development of novel antiviral drugs.

With an alarm code, we can enter a building without the bells ringing. It turns out that the SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has the same advantage when entering cells. It has the code to roll right into it.

Today (July 24, 2020) in Nature communicationResearchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) reported how the coronavirus does this.

Yogesh K Gupta

Yogesh K. Gupta, PhD, and colleagues from UT Health San Antonio discovered the mechanism by which the novel coronavirus can enter cells without encountering immune system resistance. Photo credit: UT Health San Antonio

The scientists undid the structure of an enzyme called nsp16, which produces the virus and then uses it to modify its messenger RNA Cap said Yogesh Gupta, PhD, the lead author of the study from the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.

“It’s a camouflage,” said Dr. Gupta. “Because of the modifications that deceive the cell, the resulting viral messenger RNA is now considered part of the cell’s code and not foreign.”

Deciphering the 3D structure of nsp16 paves the way for a rational design of antiviral drugs for COVID-19 and other emerging coronavirus infections, said Dr. Gupta. The drugs, new small molecules, would prevent nsp16 from making the modifications. The immune system would then pounce on the invading virus and recognize it as foreign.

“Yogesh’s work discovered the 3D structure of a key enzyme of the COVID-19 virus, which is required for its replication, and found a pocket in it that could be used to inhibit this enzyme. This is a fundamental advance in our understanding of the virus, ”said study co-author Robert Hromas, MD, professor and dean of the Long School of Medicine.

Dr. Gupta is an assistant professor at the UT Health San Antonio Institute of Biochemistry and Structural Biology and a member of the University’s Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute.

In short, messenger RNA can be described as a transmitter of genetic code for workplaces that produce proteins.


Reference: “Structural basis for the modification of the RNA cap by SARS-CoV-2” by Thiruselvam Viswanathan, Shailee Arya, Siu-Hong Chan, Shan Qi, Nan Dai, Anurag Misra, Jun-Gyu-Park, Fatai Oladunni, Dmytro Kovalskyy , Robert A. Hromas, Luis Martinez-Sobrido and Yogesh K. Gupta, July 24, 2020, Nature Communications.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-020-17496-8

The lead author’s laboratory, Yogesh Gupta, PhD, is supported by funds from the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Foundation, the San Antonio Area Foundation, the University of Texas System, UT Health San Antonio, and UT’s Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute San Antonio and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

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