Coronavirus: A map of Sars-CoV-2 activated proteins
What happens when the pathogen responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic, the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, makes contact with a human bronchial cell? A group of researchers from the University of Bologna and University of Catanzaro (Italy) mapped the interactions between the virus proteins and those of humans, showing which proteins are being “activated” and “de-activated” by Sars-CoV-2.
“Gaining knowledge about the molecular effects of Sars-CoV-2 on human proteins is fundamental to devise effective drug therapies,” says Federico M. Giorgi, principal investigator of the study and a researcher at the University of Bologna. “Inhibiting the interactions that we mapped may represent an effective strategy for a therapy able to contain the disruptive force of Sars-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses on human cells.”
This study was published on the Journal of Clinical Medicine. The researchers were able to identify human cell defense mechanisms, when the virus enters the body, for example, as well as how Sars-CoV-2 spreads in the human body, e.g., via proteins favoring its replication.
Beta-coronaviruses, a sub-family of coronaviruses, mainly cause respiratory and intestinal diseases. To date, we are aware of seven strains of beta-coronavirus that affect humans. Three of them are particularly dangerous: Sars-CoV, causing Sars, Mers-CoV, causing Mers, and the new Sars-CoV-2, causing Covid-19, the illness that has already infected over 1 million people around the globe.
We know that Sars-CoV-2 has a lot in common with its beta-coronavirus “cousins,” and with Sars-CoV in particular. Nevertheless, a detailed description of how this virus attacks human cells is still missing. To shed some light on this issue, researchers compared the interactome (the set of interactions between proteins) deriving from the encounter between Sars-CoV-2 and a human cell with the available information on the behavior of Sars-CoV and Mers-CoV viruses.