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For the first time: a clear and accurate picture of the corona's threatening protein - Walla! health

2020-12-24T04:43:51.564Z

A first-of-its-kind image of the Spike protein structure, which is responsible for the corona virus' ability to infect, also reveals its complexity. The image, taken using a special method, is used by scientists in search of a cure or in dealing with the disease



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For the first time: a clear and accurate picture of the threatening protein of the corona

A first-of-its-kind image of the Spike protein structure, which is responsible for the corona virus' ability to infect, also reveals its complexity.

The image, taken in a special method, is used by scientists in search of a cure or in dealing with the disease

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  • Corona

  • Corona virus

Walla!

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Thursday, 24 December 2020, 06:08

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Scientists photographed the prickly protein of the corona virus in astonishing detail and created the most realistic description of the protein in its natural state.

The study, published in the Quarterly Reviews Biophysics Discovery, allows researchers to take a closer look at the complete structure of the protein that allows the corona virus to enter human cells.



The spike protein is one of the most important functional structures in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

It is a protein that deals with the adhesion to the surface of human cells and thus infects them.

Specifically, Spike is a glycoprotein (a protein embedded in sugar molecules) that binds to the ACE2 receptor on the surface of human cells, giving them the ability to enter, multiply and cause destruction in the body.



As you can see in the GIF the spike consists of three protein molecules, each of which is depicted in a different color.

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(Credit: K. Zhang et al., Quarterly Reviews of Biophysics Discovery, 2020)

All SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, including Pfizer and Modernena vaccines, provide our bodies with the familiarity with the barbed protein, allowing the immune system to find a way to defeat it before the infection even occurs.

Because this protein is so significant in defeating viruses, accurate mapping of its structure is crucial.

However, like many proteins, high-resolution imaging of the structure is a difficult challenge - folded proteins create extremely complex shapes and most imaging methods require taking the protein from its natural state and manipulating it before imaging.

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The researchers' method, which incorporates a cryogenic electron microscope (cryo-EM), has been able to produce faster and more realistic images of the protein in different strains of the corona virus - a critical step in the design of drugs and therapeutic vaccines.



The team also identified places where sugar molecules bind to the prickly protein in a process called glycosylation, which plays an important role in the life cycle of the virus and its ability to evade the immune system.

Their map included three glycosylation sites that were predicted by researchers, but were never seen directly.



It is important to note that the photo is of a relative of the corona, as there are seven strains of corona viruses that infect humans.

Four of them cause relatively mild illnesses while the other three - including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 - can be fatal.

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Source: walla

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