Left Menu
Development News Edition

Body's immune response drives production of non-functional coronavirus 'gateway protein': Study

In order to understand the role this variant plays in the body's immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the scientists assessed the effects of exposing cells to interferons -- signalling proteins that are made and released by virus-infected cells. They found that interferons increase the response and production specifically of MIRb-ACE2, while ACE2 is not affected.

PTI | London | Updated: 25-10-2020 09:48 IST | Created: 25-10-2020 09:46 IST
Body's immune response drives production of non-functional coronavirus 'gateway protein': Study
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

Some immune system molecules trigger the production of a non-functional variant of the human protein used by the novel coronavirus to enter and infect host cells, according to a study that sheds light on the body's natural defence against COVID-19. The research, published in the journal Nature Genetics, examined the genetic information that codes for the ACE2 receptor, to which the SARS-CoV-2 virus must bind in order to enter and infect human cells.

In the study, scientists, including those from the Francis Crick Institute in London, analysed existing genetic databases and human cells to identify a new variant, or isoform, of ACE2 called MIRb-ACE2, which the SARS-CoV-2 virus cannot bind to. "This variant of genetic information is the result of retroelements in our DNA, which can 'jump' around the genome impacting gene expression," said Kevin Ng, a co-author of the study from the Francis Crick Insitute.

"From looking at which other species also have this variant, it appears to be widely present in mammals, so it must have entered the human genome a long time ago," he added. In order to understand the role this variant plays in the body's immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the scientists assessed the effects of exposing cells to interferons -- signalling proteins that are made and released by virus-infected cells.

They found that interferons increase the response and production specifically of MIRb-ACE2, while ACE2 is not affected. According to the researchers, the findings allay concerns that interferon-based treatments for SARS-CoV-2 could inadvertently be helping the virus by bringing about an increase in coronavirus cell receptors in the body.

They said the coronavirus is not able to bind to MIRb-ACE2, which is also highly unstable. "The non-functional MIRb-ACE2 isoform was likely responsible for results from previous studies that suggested interferons could be upregulating ACE2, as there was no distinction between these two isoforms," said George Kassiotis, another co-author of the study.

"This highlights how scientific knowledge about SARS-CoV-2 is constantly being revised and updated as new research is carried out. We still have a lot to learn, but we are making rapid progress," Kassiotis said. The researchers also found that cells in the upper aero-digestive tract, including the mouth and the nose, express more MIRb-ACE2 than the functional ACE2, and this balance changes lower in this tract and in the intestines. They believe more research is needed to understand why this difference occurs and the impact it might have on how the virus spreads in the body.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Turbulence surrounding tobacco control in Ghana

... ...

Refugee compassion and response: Ideas to mitigate disasters now and in their future

Their homeland becomes a forbidden territory for them and more likely than not, their journey to foreign soil is no less traumatizing, not to say deadly. It is crucial to help refugees live a life of dignity and purpose....

Inadequate water infrastructure causes a tidal wave of coronavirus in rural Alaska

... ...

Videos

Latest News

U.S. prosecutors investigating potential scheme to pay bribe for Trump pardon

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating a potential crime related to funneling money to the White House in exchange for a presidential pardon, according to court documents unsealed in federal court.U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell on T...

Neera Tanden has shown bad judgment in the past: Nikki Haley

Republican politician Nikki Haley Tuesday said Neera Tandens nomination as the Director of Office of Management and Budget is deeply concerning, as she has shown bad judgment in the past. Tanden has shown bad judgment in the past. She said ...

Georgia election official implores Trump to stop fraud rhetoric, fears 'someone's going to get hurt'

A top election official in Georgia on Tuesday implored U.S. President Donald Trump to stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence by fanning baseless claims that the election he lost last month was rigged. Gabriel Sterling, m...

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stocks rise after vaccine optimism drives Wall St to record highs

Asian markets were set to climb on Wednesday after Wall Street indexes closed at record highs as investors grow increasingly hopeful about a vaccine to combat rising COVID-19 cases and an economic recovery.Weve had some positive leads, and ...

Give Feedback