The Max Planck Institute has identified a new point of attack on the coronavirus
The German research team used a new method of analysis to detect a previously unknown site of attack in the SARS-CoV-2 spinach coronavirus protein. The team showed that certain sugar molecules protect the protein class and protect much of the 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 use the dynamic SARS-CoV-2 model to understand the protective function of the virus, which protects class proteins from immune defense cells. At the same time, the investigation also revealed weak points in the virus’s protective shield. The results were recently presented in the well-known specialist magazine “Plos”.
Grain proteins as a key feature of SARS-CoV-2
As the working group points out, spike protein is a key feature of SONS-CoV-2 coronavirus, because with the help of protein it can adhere to cell surfaces to then infect them. Extensive research has enabled the creation of detailed models of coronavirus and spike proteins. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute have now further improved these models.
Earlier 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 protein spikes themselves and the surrounding glycan chains.
Like a windshield wiper
Simulations show that sugar molecules on the protein class act like a dynamic protective shield that helps the virus evade the human immune system. Researchers compare the protective function to a windshield wiper that cleans a car’s windshield. Glycans move back and forth on the protein spike, preventing neutralizing antibodies from adhering to the protein spike.
Not all places are equally protected
However, research has also shown that not all places are equally well protected. Similar to a windshield wiper, sugar molecules do not cover all areas of protein spikes. Some areas are less protected by a glycan shield than others, the researchers emphasize. Some areas identified have already been identified as weak points in previous studies, while others are currently unknown.
New starting points against SARS-CoV-2 mutations
“We are in a phase of a pandemic that is constantly changing with the emergence of new versions of SARS-CoV-2, with mutations particularly concentrated in the protein class,” explains Mateusz Sikora of the research team. The new approach could support vaccine and therapeutic antibody design, especially if already established methods fail.
Finding vulnerabilities to viral proteins
At the same time, the developed method also represents a new way of finding potential weak points on other viral proteins, summarizes the research team from the Max Planck Institute. Recently, a U.S. research team discovered another weak point in the coronavirus spike 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 is in accordance with the requirements of the specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by medical professionals.
Diploma Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Society Max Planck: Dynamic model of Sars-CoV-2 class protein shows targets for new vaccines (published: 01.04.2021.), Mpg.de
- Mateusz Sikora, Sören von Bülow, Florian EC Blanc, et al .: Computational epitope map of SARS-CoV-2 class proteins; in: Plos Computational Biology, 2021, journals.plos.org
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended for use in self-diagnosis or self-medication. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.