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Musical structure of SARS-CoV-2 virus protein

Date: 08 April 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Using computational algorithms, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have made the material manifestation of the SARS-CoV-2 protein audible.

 

Background

Because of its small size, it is impossible to see the coronavirus with the naked eye, but it is possible to listen to it.

 

Details

  • The over 1 hour 49 minutes long instrumental piece musically represents the amino acid sequence and the spike protein of the COVID-19 pathogen.

  • The scientists represented the spike protein’s amino acid sequence, its secondary structure patterns and its three-dimensional folds in the form of a musical composition.

  • Representing the protein in this form can help researchers find out new sites on the proteins, where drugs or antibodies may be able to bind themselves and stop the virus from infecting humans.

  • Further, musically representing the spike protein is helping the researchers to understand its vibrational structure, which can be critical for drug design.

  • After the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was revealed earlier this year, it was determined that it is made up of spherical particles that have proteins called spikes on them.

  • These spikes make it easier for the virus to attach or bind itself to human cells, after which it undergoes a structural change to fuse with the membrane of the cell. Thereafter the genes of the virus enter the host cell and replicate.

 

Importance of structure of virus

  • The spikes on the virus surface is one of the reasons that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is so contagious and is easily spread from person to person. Research also points out that this virus binds itself to a particular receptor called the ACE2 receptor on the human cell surface.

  • This ACE2 receptor might be responsible for severe COVID-19 among the elderly population since many elderly patients with co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension take ACEIs and ARBs, highly recommended medications for these diseases that are known to increase the number of ACE2 receptors.