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Nov 1, 2020

How Coronavirus Can Be Stopped: 3D Atomic Map of COVID-19’s Viral Replication Mechanism

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, chemistry, particle physics

To better understand how the novel coronavirus behaves and how it can be stopped, scientists have completed a three-dimensional map that reveals the location of every atom in an enzyme molecule critical to SARS-CoV-2 reproduction.

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutron scattering to identify key information to improve the effectiveness of drug inhibitors designed to block the virus’s replication mechanism. The research is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, expresses long chains of proteins composed of approximately 1,900 amino acid residues. For the virus to reproduce, those chains have to be broken down and cut into smaller strands by an enzyme called the main protease. The active protease enzyme is formed from two identical protein molecules held together by hydrogen bonds. Developing a drug that inhibits or blocks the protease activity will prevent the virus from replicating and spreading to other cells in the body.

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