Scientists investigating the evolution of the virus that causes Covid19 say that its mutation seems to be directed by human proteins that degrade it, but natural selection of the virus enables it to bounce back. The findings could help in the design of vaccines against the virus.
All organisms mutate. You were for example born with between 10 and 100 new mutations in your DNA. Mutation is usually a random process often owing to mistakes made when DNA is copied. Recent work from researchers at the Universities of Bath and Edinburgh, suggests that in the case of SARS-CoV-2, mutation may well not be a random process and that instead humans are mutating it, as part of a defence mechanism to degrade the virus.
The team looked at over 15,000 virus genomes from all of the sequencing efforts around the world and identified over 6000 mutations. They looked at how much each of the four letters that make up the virus’ genetic code (A, C, U and G) were mutating and discovered that the virus had a very high rate of mutations generating U residues.
Senior author Professor Laurence Hurst, Director of the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, said: “I have looked at mutational profiles for many organisms and they all show some sort of bias, but I’ve never seen one as strong and strange as this.”
In particular they found that mutation very commonly generated UU neighbouring pairs, mutating from the original sequence of CU and UC. They noted this is a fingerprint of the mutational profile of a human protein, called APOBEC, that can mutate viruses. Professor Hurst commented: “It looks like mutation isn’t random, but instead we are attacking the virus by mutating it.”
Image Credit: Amanda Scott/Envato
Thanks to Heinz V. Hoenen. Follow him on twitter: @HeinzVHoenen
News This Week
Modern Approaches to Augmentation of Brain Function Available from Springer Press This book covers recent advances in neural technology that provide for enhancements for brain function. It addresses a broad range of neural phenomena [...]
Although the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, limited manufacturing capacity and the need for cold-chain storage hinder their global distribution. A recent study tested the efficacy of a new adeno-associated virus (AAV) [...]
Fully vaccinated people were 11 times less likely to die of COVID and 10 times less likely to be hospitalized compared to the unvaccinated since highly contagious Delta became the most common variant, US [...]
The highly-infectious Delta coronavirus variant has spread to at least 174 countries worldwide, from the US to Australia, causing a surge in COVID-19 cases. The variant has mutations that help it partially escape the immune response produced by [...]
Fragile mRNA molecules used in COVID-19 vaccines can’t get into cells on their own. They owe their success to lipid nanoparticles that took decades to refine. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is having a moment. This [...]
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed critical knowledge gaps and assumptions concerning how respiratory viruses spread between hosts. Traditionally thought to be spread mainly through large respiratory droplets produced by the coughs and sneezes of sick individuals, [...]
SARS-CoV-2 is just one of nonillions of viruses on our planet, and scientists are rapidly identifying legions of new species. Mya Breitbart has hunted novel viruses in African termite mounds, Antarctic seals and water [...]
As a team of South African researchers we have identified a new lineage of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. A lineage represents a genetically distinct virus population with a common ancestor. This virus may be designated as a variant [...]
Citing the possibility of another serious pandemic, the Biden administration on Friday laid out a plan to transform the nation’s ability to respond to major biological threats. As staggering as the COVID-19 pandemic has been, [...]
How doctors can predict which patients are more likely to die of COVID Several studies have come out about the COVID prognosis. As a result, we now have a powerful way to predict [...]
Though Delta continues to be the dominant COVID-19 strain, the World Health Organization (WHO) now says there's a new variant to keep your eye on. The B.1.621 variant, also called Mu, has just been [...]
Being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 not only cuts the risk of catching it, but also of an infection turning into long Covid, research led by King's College London suggests. It shows that in the [...]
Moderna Inc.’s Covid vaccine generated more than double the antibodies of a similar shot made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE in research directly comparing immune responses to the inoculations. A study of almost [...]
A coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa 'could be more infectious' than other mutations and have the potential to 'evade vaccines', scientists have said. The C.1.2 strain, which is linked to 'increased transmissibility', is more mutations away from [...]