Blocking protein interactions prevents SARS-CoV-2 infection of human cells

Scientists identified the way SARS-CoV-2 takes control of our cells.

Recently, scientists identified the way SARS-CoV-2 takes control of human cells. Their study also revealed a possible way to inhibit the ravages of the virus.

During SARS-CoV-2 infection, each viral protein performs unique functions. It interacts with various cellular protein host factors to allow viral proliferation and immune escape.

Scientists are working hard to find which human proteins SARS-CoV-2 proteins bind to.

Scientists at the Uppsala University have developed and used a new method to map interactions on a large scale between human proteins and coronavirus proteins. Their method has offered valuable new information.

Using this information, they have shown that blocking one of these interactions inhibited infection of human cells by SARS-CoV-2.

In collaboration with the scientists at the University of Copenhagen, scientists confirmed the interaction between the viral protein and the human protein in a more complex system. This has enhanced understanding of what happens in the cell when the virus takes over the interaction.

The study could prompt the further development of an agent that inhibits COVID-19. However, more work needs to be done before determining whether the inhibitor they have found can be developed to treat viral infection.

Ylva Ivarsson, a professor of biochemistry at Uppsala University, who has coordinated the study, said“We have worked intensively on the project during the ongoing pandemic. It has been amazing how quickly research can progress when researchers from different universities and countries join forces and work towards the same goal.”

In addition to interactions with SARS-CoV-2 that cause COVID-19, the method can also be used to determine many interactions with other coronavirus proteins, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV and more common coronaviruses. This provides broad insight into how various coronaviruses differ and could help us better prepare to deal with new types of viruses.

The study is a collaboration between a research team at Umeå University and the University of Copenhagen.

Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas Kruse et al., Large scale discovery of coronavirus-host factor protein interaction motifs reveals SARS-CoV-2 specific mechanisms and vulnerabilities, Nature Communications (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26498-z

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