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
Shigella bacteria, which causes Shigellosis, is the primary cause of bacterial diarrhea and diarrheal death among juveniles under five years of age. Because of the antibiotic resistance of Shigella strains, no commercial vaccines are available to date. [...]
Scientists have built microscopic robots equipped with electronic “brains” that are capable of walking autonomously. A team from Cornell University in the US developed the solar-powered bots as part of research into a new generation of [...]
Blood samples from patients with long COVID who are still suffering from fatigue and shortness of breath after a year show signs of autoimmune disease, according to a study published today (Thursday) [...]
High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is among the deadliest human cancers and its prognosis remains extremely poor. An article published in Advanced Science explored the self-therapeutic properties of gold nanoparticles to identify a molecular axis that [...]
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity and lyse microbial cells by interaction with biomembranes, offering great potential in designing new therapeutics. The antimicrobial resistance (AMR) caused due to overuse of [...]
Tumor cells are notoriously good at evading the human immune system; they put up physical walls, wear disguises and handcuff the immune system with molecular tricks. Now, UC San Francisco researchers have developed a [...]
Hyperspectral microscopy is an advanced visualization technique that combines hyperspectral imaging with state-of-the-art optics and computer software to enable rapid identification of nanomaterials. Since hyperspectral datacubes are large, their acquisition is complicated and time-consuming. [...]
Malignant brain tumors are cancerous growth in the brain with the possibility of spreading to other parts of the central nervous system (CNS). Brain tumors are highly invasive and have devastating consequences, poor prognosis, [...]
An ultrathin invention could make future computing, sensing and encryption technologies remarkably smaller and more powerful by helping scientists control a strange but useful phenomenon of quantum mechanics, according to new research recently published [...]
Methacrylate-based materials are often used in bone cement and dental resins. However, they have high failure rates as they undergo damage within ten years, impacting the quality of patient’s life and increasing healthcare costs. [...]
Early diagnosis of an infectious viral disease can help the patients and health care professionals monitor the outbreaks accurately and provide treatment at the early stage of a disease, avoiding any detrimental consequences. The [...]
Researchers at Duke University have developed a unique type of nanoparticle called a “nanorattle” that greatly enhances light emitted from within its outer shell. Loaded with light scattering dyes called Raman reporters commonly used [...]
A household microwave oven modified by a Cornell Engineering professor is helping to cook up the next generation of cellphones, computers and other electronics after the invention was shown to overcome a major challenge [...]
Nanopore sensing has emerged as a versatile approach to detecting and identifying biomolecules. Within this frame of reference, the fast-responding ionic current is considered an essential criterion for accurately measuring small objects with [...]
Graphical abstract. Credit: Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2022.112551 Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have developed a plastic film that can kill viruses that land on its surface with room light. The [...]
Nanotechnology that accelerates the transition of stem cells into bone could advance regenerative medicine. A nanotechnology platform developed by KAUST scientists could lead to new treatments for degenerative bone diseases. The system takes advantage [...]