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Source: Research News  Oct 28, 2020  3 years, 5 months, 2 weeks, 6 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes ago

Research News: Columbia University Study Shows That Coronaviruses Including COVID-19 Pathogen SARS-CoV-2 Adept At Imitating Human Immune Proteins

Research News: Columbia University Study Shows That Coronaviruses Including COVID-19 Pathogen SARS-CoV-2 Adept At Imitating Human Immune Proteins
Source: Research News  Oct 28, 2020  3 years, 5 months, 2 weeks, 6 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes ago
Research News: A new study by researchers from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons has found that coronaviruses including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease are adept at imitating human immune proteins that have been implicated in severe conditions.


 
It has been known that viruses deploy genetically encoded strategies to co-opt host machinery and support viral replicative cycles.
 
In this study the team used protein structure similarity to scan for molecular mimicry, manifested by structural similarity between viral and endogenous host proteins, across thousands of cataloged viruses and hosts spanning broad ecological niches and taxonomic range, including bacteria, plants and fungi, invertebrates, and vertebrates.
 
Significantly the study identified over 6,000,000 instances of structural mimicry; more than 70% of viral mimics cannot be discerned through protein sequence alone.
 
The team demonstrated that the manner and degree to which viruses exploit molecular mimicry varies by genome size and nucleic acid type and identify 158 human proteins that are mimicked by coronaviruses, providing clues about cellular processes driving pathogenesis. The observations point to molecular mimicry as a pervasive strategy employed by viruses and indicate that the protein structure space used by a given virus is dictated by the host proteome.
 
The study findings were published in the journal: Cell Systems. https://www.cell.com/cell-systems/fulltext/S2405-4712(20)30363-X?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS240547122030363X%3Fshowall%3Dtrue#%20
 
Numerous plants and animals use the art of mimicry to trick their prey or predators. Viruses employ a similar strategy: Viral proteins can mimic the three-dimensional shapes of their host's proteins to trick the host into helping the virus complete its life cycle.
 
Lead researcher Dr Sagi Shapira, PhD, Assistant Professor of Systems Biology, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons told; Thailand Medical News,  “Typically Viruses use mimicry for the same reason as plants and animals ie deception. We hypothesized that identifying viral-protein look-alikes would give us clues to the way viruses including the SARS-CoV-2 cause disease."
 
Dr Shapira used supercomputers In the study to search for viral mimics with a program similar to 3D facial recognition software. They scanned more than 7,000 viruses and over 4,000 hosts across Earth's ecosystems and uncovered 6 million instances of viral mimicry.
 
Dr Shapira added, "Mimicry is a more pervasive strategy among viruses than we ever imagined. It's used by all kinds of viruses, regardless of the size of the viral genome, how the virus replicates, or whether the virus infects bacteria, plants, insects or people."
 
However some types of viruses used mimicry more than others. Papilloma and retroviruses, not so much. Coronaviruses, on the other hand, are particularly good at it an d were found to mimic over 150 proteins, including many that control blood coagulation or activate complement-a set of immune proteins that help target pathogens for destruction and increase inflammation in the body.
 
Dr Shapira further added, “We thought that by mimicking the body's immune complement and coagulation proteins, coronaviruses may drive these systems into a hyperactive state and cause the pathology we see in infected patients."