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Researchers have discovered that alpha variants use certain proteins to evade an immune response.

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A new study investigating how mutants of initial concern for the new coronavirus developed is that alpha variants, as well as mutations found in new mutants such as Omicron, reveal specific aspects of the immune system. We have discovered that we have evolved a mutation that suppresses it.

The alpha variant first appeared in the UK in the fall of 2020 and introduced the world to the horrifying ideas of the variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Later, it was overtaken by subsequent variants such as Delta and Omicron, but by studying the structure and function of alpha, scientists can better understand how viral variants evolve. I can do it.

Researchers in the United States and the United Kingdom have worked together to investigate how Alpha has attacked the human body, and the mutations that have allowed Alpha to thrive go beyond peplomer-centric mutations. I found that.

Their research, Listed in Thursday’s journal NatureFound that alpha mutants may help increase the production of certain proteins and suppress the way infected cells signal the immune system.

To find out more about how alpha variants work, researchers look at cells grown in laboratories infected with this variant to monitor protein levels and how cells function. Did.

The data were then compared to how the cells responded to infection with the original strain of COVID-19. The biggest difference was in how the body’s innate immune response responded or did not respond. This is the body’s first line of defense to prevent the invasion of pathogens. Researchers say Alpha interfered with the rally cry that normally activates this system.

Among the alpha-infected cells, there were abundant three viral proteins known to help COVID-19 evade the immune response. In particular, what is called Orf9b achieved this by blocking intracellular proteins that normally switch on genes that signal the immune system to respond.

Researchers have stated that this type of mutation may have contributed to enhanced transmission of alpha variants by suppressing more of its initial immune response.

These findings indicate that peaplomers are not the only factor researchers should consider when designing treatments to help people infected with COVID-19.

Mutations around peplomeres are more talked about than other types because SARS-CoV-2 uses superficial peplomers to attach to receptors in human cells. In the delta variant, it is believed that a more efficient peplomer facilitates fusion with the cell, and all current COVID-19 vaccines are aimed at the cell generating an immune response to this peplomer.

“The spike mutation allows the virus to invade cells more effectively,” said one of the authors of the paper, the Institute for Quantitative Biological Sciences (QBI) at the University of California, San Francisco and its coronavirus. Devan Krogan, Leader of the Research Group (QCRG), Said in a press release.

“But what about after the virus enters the cell? There may be other mutations that allow more replication.”

Although each subspecies is different, many share similar mutations, and both delta and omicron appear as cousins ​​of the alpha subspecies. Both Delta and Omicron have similar mutations in the areas where researchers have studied alpha variants. This means that it can have similar effects on the immune system.

In the release, QBI co-author and senior scientist Lorena Zuliani-Alvarez said, “The virus continues to evolve, adapt to the host, and improve with each adaptation.” “That’s why Omicron has 53 mutations.”

Studies point out that by studying mutations other than those around peplomers, scientists can get a complete picture of the evolution of the virus. This is very important in fighting future variants.

“Study of the variant of concern gives us an idea of ​​how SARS-CoV-2 evolves,” postdoctoral fellow and co-author Mehdi Bouhaddou said in the release. “This gives us a sense of the most frequently mutated proteins and the biological effects of those mutations. I think this will help us prepare for what may come next. . “

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