Scientists find ‘hidden’ gene in COVID-19, may contribute to unique biology: report

Scientists have discovered a new gene ‘hidden’ in the novel coronavirus that could contribute to its unique biology

New York:

Researchers have discovered a new “hidden” gene in the novel coronavirus that could contribute to its unique biology and epidemic potential, a breakthrough that could lead to the development of new therapies against deadly viruses.

Scientists say drugs and vaccines can have a significant impact in fighting viruses by learning more about the 15 genes that make up the coronovirus genome, including those from the American Museum of Natural History in the United States. .

In the current study, published in the journal eLife, researchers described overlapping genes – or “genes in genes” – in viruses they say play a role in virus replication in host cells. .

Study author Chase Nelson of the American Museum of Natural History said: “Overlapping the ginges may be one of the ways in which coronaviruses are developed to replicate effectively, evoking the immunity of the host or pass on. is.”

“Knowing that there are overlapping genes and how they work may reveal new pathways for coronovirus control, for example through antiviral drugs,” Nelson said.

The research team has identified a new, overlapping gene – ORF3d – in the new SARS-CoV-2 coronovirus, which has the ability to encode a higher protein than expected.

They said ORF3d is also present in previously discovered pangolin coronaviruses, indicating that the SARS-CoV-2 gene and associated viruses can change during development.

According to the study, ORF3d was independently identified and showed a strong antibody response in COVID-19 patients, indicating that the protein generated from the new gene is produced during human infection.

“We don’t yet know its function or if it has clinical significance. But we believe this gene is relatively less likely to be detected by a T cell response, as opposed to an antibody response. And maybe part of it Be like that too. Was able to produce the gene, ”Mr. Nelson said.

Scientists have reported that coronavirus genes can resemble written language in that they are made up of stars of the basic chemical molecules adenine, guanine, uracil, and cytosine, represented by the letters A, G, U and respectively. vs.

They reported that these articles serve as an informational code for protein synthesis in cells.

But when the units of the language (words) are discrete and do not overlap, the researchers said genes can overlap and be multidimensional, with the information secretly encoded based on where you start to “read.” . .

Overlapping genes are difficult to spot and most scientific computer programs are not designed to find them, with scientists claiming they are common in viruses.

This is partly because RNA viruses have very high mutation rates, so they tend to keep their gene count low to avoid a large number of mutations, he explained.

The researchers noted that the virus evolved “like a data compression system” in which a single letter from its genome can contribute to two or three different genes.

“The missing overlapping genes cause us to ignore important aspects of viral biology,” Nelson said.

“In terms of genome size, SARS-CoV-2 and its parents are among the longest RNA viruses. So they’re probably more vulnerable to ‘genomic deception’ than other RNA viruses, ”he said. .

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)

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