Discovery of 8 new entry points for the Covid-19 virus in the human body
Germs attack human cells through entry points to which they attach, before spilling out their contents to replicate. If there is no fixation, no infection takes place. The scientists of thePrinceton University have understood this and studies on the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) have been carried out on this subject. An approach has also been developed and it has made it possible to identify many virus infection sites.
The marking technology that has been developed is called Micromap Where µMap. She recognizes protein cousins and enzymes on the surface of a cell thanks to a photocatalyst (molecule activated by light). Surprisingly, the binding sites are close to a receptor called ACE2, responsible for another disease.
Alexander Ploss, a leading virologist and professor of molecular biology, was the lead author of the research. The results of the study are in Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS).
Eight novel spike protein-linked receptors
In their study, the researchers used spike molecules as marker of receptors of cells. On these particles, they placed a photocatalyst which activates and triggers a series of reactions to identify, in passing, the molecular neighbors in the vicinity of ACE2. Technology has made it possible to identify eight new receivers which interact with the spike protein.
Still with a view to deciphering the procedure for infection with the Covid-19 virus, the researchers imitated several intrusions on target cells with pseudoparticles viral (harmless germ). In the end, four sites were selected as potentially conducive to SARS-CoV-2 infection. But additional studies would be needed to obtain irrefutable information.
“Four factors out of eight receptors were exceptional by virological evaluation. However, we need to assess more and assess more accurately. »
Saori Suzuki, associate researcher at the Ploss Lab
But what happens during the infection?
Observations of the Covid-19 infection process have revealed that the human cell receptors to which the virus attaches are similar to those targeted by another disease. In fact, this enzyme, called angiotensin 2 conversion siteor ACE2, is also targeted by the SARS-CoV-1 germ, identified since 2003.
However, knowledge of the virus’ favorite receptor alone is not enough to understand the infection process. We must therefore turn to what is happening during infection at other sites.
“We knew that there are host molecules that this virus absolutely depends on to get into lung cells, and one of those molecules is called ACE2. So we basically said, okay, let’s see if there’s more. »
Alexander Ploss, leading virologist and professor of molecular biology