The Max Planck Institute identifies a new coronavirus attack point
A German research team has used a new method of analysis to discover a hitherto unknown point of attack on the leading protein of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The team showed that certain sugar molecules protect the spike protein and protect a large part of the immune defense cells. However, the working group also discovered less well-protected areas of ear protein that could be targeted.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysics in Frankfurt am Main were able to use a dynamic model of SARS-CoV-2 to understand a protective function of the virus, which protects spike proteins in cells. immune defense. At the same time, research also revealed weaknesses in the virus’s protective shield. The results were recently presented in the renowned specialized magazine “Plos”.
Spike protein as a key feature of SARS-CoV-2
As the working group points out, spike protein is a key feature of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, as with the help of the protein it can cling to the surfaces of cells and then infect them. Extensive research has led to the creation of detailed models of coronavirus and its spike protein. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute have further improved these models.
Earlier models of spike protein were static and could not represent motion. For the first time, the new model is able to simulate the movements of the spike protein itself and the surrounding glycan chains.
Like a windshield wiper
Simulations show that spike protein sugar molecules act as a dynamic protective shield that helps the virus bypass the human immune system. Researchers compare the protective function to a windshield wiper that cleans a car’s windshield. Glycans move back and forth over the ear protein, preventing neutralizing antibodies from adhering to the ear protein.
Not all places are equally protected
However, research also showed that not all locations are equally well protected. Similar to a windshield wiper, sugar molecules do not cover all areas of the ear protein. Some areas are less well protected by the glycan shield than others, the researchers emphasize. Some of the areas discovered have already been identified as weaknesses in previous studies; others, so far, are unknown.
New starting points against SARS-CoV-2 mutations
“We are in a phase of the pandemic that is constantly changing due to the emergence of new variants of SARS-CoV-2, with mutations especially concentrated in the tip protein,” explains Mateusz Sikora of the research team. The new approach could support the design of therapeutic vaccines and antibodies, especially if established methods fail.
Find vulnerabilities in viral proteins
At the same time, the method developed also represents a new way to find possible weaknesses in other viral proteins, sums up the Max Planck Institute research team. Recently, a US research team discovered another weak point of the coronavirus peak protein: you can learn more about it in the article: “COVID-19: New identified weak point of the virus.” (vb)
Information about the author and the source
This text meets the requirements of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been reviewed by medical professionals.
Diploma Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Max Planck Society: the dynamic model of the Sars-CoV-2 ear protein shows targets for new vaccines (published: 01/01/2021), mpg.de
- Mateusz Sikora, Sören von Bülow, Florian EC Blanc, et al .: Map of the computational epitope of the SARS-CoV-2 ear protein; in: Plos Computational Biology, 2021, journals.plos.org
This article is for guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.