The Max Planck Institute has identified a new point of attack on the coronavirus
A German research team used a new analytical method to discover a previously unknown site of attack in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus protein. The group showed that some sugar molecules protect proteins and protect a large portion of immune defense cells. However, the working group also identified less well-protected areas of spike protein that could be targeted.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt am Main were able to understand the protective function of the virus, which protects protein proteins from immune defense cells, with the dynamic SARS-CoV-2 model. At the same time, the investigation also revealed weak points in the virus’s shield. The results were recently presented in the renowned professional journal “Plos”.
Protein as a key feature of SARS-CoV-2
As the working group points out, the protein protein is a key feature of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, as it can be used by proteins to adhere to cell surfaces and then infect them. Extensive research has made it possible to produce detailed models of the coronavirus and its proteins. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute have further refined these models.
Previous models of spike proteins were static and could not represent movement. For the first time, the new model is able to simulate the movement of the spike protein itself and the surrounding glycan chains.
As a windshield wiper
Simulations show that the sugar molecules on spike proteins act as a dynamic protective shield that helps the virus escape the human immune system. Researchers compare the protective function to a windshield wiper that cleans a car’s windshield. Glycans move back and forth along the protein protein, preventing neutralizing antibodies from adhering to the protein.
Not all cities are equally protected
However, research has also shown that not all locations are equally well protected. Like windshield wipers, sugar molecules do not cover all areas of protein. Some areas are less protected by a glycan shield than others, the researchers point out. Some of the discovered areas have already been identified as weak points in previous studies, while others are hitherto unknown.
New starting points against SARS-CoV-2 mutations
“We are in a pandemic phase that is constantly changing with the emergence of new versions of SARS-CoV-2, with mutations primarily concentrated in the protein protein,” explains Mateusz Sikora of the research group. A new approach could support the design of vaccines and therapeutic antibodies, especially if already established methods fail.
Search for vulnerabilities to viral proteins
At the same time, the developed method also represents a new way of looking for potential weak points on other viral proteins, sums up the research group at the Max Planck Institute. Only recently, a U.S. research team discovered another weak point in the coronavirus protein: you can learn more about this in the article: “COVID-19: A New Weak Point in the Virus Identified.” (vb)
Author and source information
This text meets the requirements of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current research and has been verified by healthcare professionals.
Diploma Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Society Max Planck: A dynamic protein model with Sars-CoV-2 spikes shows targets for new vaccines (published: 01.04.2021), mpg.de
- Mateusz Sikora, Sören von Bülow, Florian EC Blanc, et al .: Computer epitope map of the SARS-CoV-2 protein; in: Plos Computational Biology, 2021, journals.plos.org
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-medication. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.