How Coronavirus tricks immune system with camouflageDate: 27 July 2020 Tags: Biotechnology
The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has been found to have the some advantage entering cells. A new study in Nature Communications describes how the coronavirus is able to achieve stealth.
In lay terms, messenger RNA can be described as a deliverer of genetic code to worksites that produce proteins.
The virus produces an enzyme called nsp16, which it then uses to modify its messenger RNA cap. In lay terms, messenger RNA can be described as a deliverer of genetic code to worksites that produce proteins.
The modifications by the virus serve as a camouflage. Because of the modifications, which fool the cell, the resulting viral messenger RNA is now considered as part of the cell’s own code and not foreign.
Researchers found this when they resolved the structure of nsp16. Deciphering the 3D structure of nsp16 paves the way for the rational design of antiviral drugs for Covid-19 and other emerging coronavirus infections.
The new small molecules in the drugs would inhibit nsp16 from making the modifications. The immune system would then recognise the virus as foreign, and target it.
The study discovered the 3D structure of a key enzyme of the Covid-19 virus required for its replication and found a pocket in it that can be targeted to inhibit that enzyme. This is a fundamental advance in our understanding of the virus.