Researchers identify dozens of genes enabling replication of SARS-CoV-2; Details

By: |
October 29, 2020 3:39 PM

The researchers believe that the pro- and anti-viral role played by these genres would allow scientists to better develop therapies to treat COVID-19.

The statement said that the team conducted a genome-wide screen of a line of green monkey cells.

COVID-19-enabling genes: Scientists identify genes allowing SARS-CoV-2 to replicate! A team of researchers from the Yale University and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have identified dozens of genes that allow the novel coronavirus and the MERS viruses to replicate in cells, Yale said in a statement. The team screened millions of cells that had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and MERS viruses. Apart from the genes that allow the viruses to replicate, the scientists have also found genes that shut the viruses out, the statement said. The researchers believe that the pro- and anti-viral role played by these genres would allow scientists to better develop therapies to treat COVID-19.

The team published their findings in the Cell journal earlier this week.

COVID-19: Why is the finding important?

The statement said that the various previous research conducted on COVID-19 had helped in understanding how exactly SARS-CoV-2 attached itself to the cells and entered it, but there had been no clear understanding as to why some cells had been more vulnerable to the infection.

If the scientists understand the genetics behind the vulnerability of the host cells, it might help in clarifying why some of the people show no or few symptoms upon being exposed to the virus, while some fall extremely ill and in some cases, even succumb to the infection.

Coronavirus pandemic: How did the scientists conduct the study?

The statement said that the team conducted a genome-wide screen of a line of green monkey cells. These cells are more likely to die after being exposed to SARS-CoV-2 than the human cell lines that are commonly used. The university said this was the first time ever that researchers were able to simultaneously track the virus and cell interactions. The screens also confirmed the earlier findings that the ACE-2 gene was promoting infection by the novel coronavirus.

The screens also helped in identifying two new protein complexes that aided the virus and a third one which prevented infection. The team found that the SWI/SNF complex and the HMGB1 were linked to an increased cell death post infection. Meanwhile, the histone H3 complex was found to inhibit the novel coronavirus’ ability to infect cells and cause cell death.

Corresponding author of the paper Craig Wilen from Yale said that this identification might help in predicting which patients were likely to fall severely ill and the kinds of drugs that would help in treating them. Wilen also stated that the information would not only be of use during the ongoing pandemic, but also be useful in preparation for any outbreaks by coronaviruses emerging in the future.

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