(Daily News Scan - DNS English) How Coronavirus Tricks Immune System
When an intruder enters a building, generally the intruder deactivates the alarm before it goes off. Similarly, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has been found to have the same advantage entering cells. The modifications made by the virus serve as camouflage. It is a new study that has been described in Nature Communications. This study also explains how the coronavirus achieves it.
In this DNS we will know how the Coronavirus Sars- Cov-2 camouflages itself and tricks the immune system.
Since the month of March, we all have been dealing with effects of Coronavirus.
Globally, there are 1, 64, 74, 622 confirmed COVID-19 cases across 188 counties, which has led to 6,54, 007 deaths, reports the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO declared the virus a global pandemic on March 11, expressing their concern on the alarming levels of spread and severity of the outbreak. India has 14, 83,156 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Coronavirus causes illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, coughing and difficulty in breathing, while in severe cases, it can cause pneumonia, multiple organ failure and death. The development period of COVID-19 is thought to be between one to 14 days however, the virus is highly contagious before symptoms appear.
In one of the new studies described in the Nature Communication, the SARS-COV-2 virus camouflages itself before entering into the human body.
The virus produces an enzyme called nsp16. It then uses this
enzyme to modify its messenger RNA cap. In simple terms, messenger RNA can be
described as a deliverer of genetic code to worksites that produce proteins.
As per the researchers, the modifications by the virus serve as a camouflage. “Because of the modifications, which fool the cell, the resulting viral messenger RNA is now considered as part of the cell’s own code and not foreign,” lead author Yogesh Gupta of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) said in a statement.
Researchers found this when they resolved the structure of nsp16. Deciphering the 3D structure of nsp16, creates the way for rational design of antiviral drugs for Covid-19 and other emerging coronavirus infections. The new small molecules in the drugs would inhibit nsp16 from making the modifications. The immune system would then recognise the virus as foreign, and target it.
It was discovered that the 3D structure of a key enzyme of the Covid-19 virus required for its replication and a pocket was found in it that can be targeted to inhibit that enzyme. This is a fundamental advance in understanding of the virus.
Now let us understand what is RNA?
RNA or Ribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid present in all living cells. Its principal role is to act as a messenger carrying instructions from DNA for controlling the synthesis of proteins, although in some viruses RNA rather than DNA carries the genetic information.