An important protein for infecting cells with coronavirus has been identified

Swedish scientists have determined how coronavirus interacts with human cell proteins CoV-2 takes control of human cells and uses them to replicate itself. The results of the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, will help develop new drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.

To infect cells, viruses use peptide motifs that interact with proteins of the cell itself. Motives in this case are relatively short sequences of amino acids that are conserved during evolution. This is due to the fact that mutations in them lead to the inability of the motive to perform an important function, for example, to bind to certain regions of proteins with which the virus must interact.

Scientists were able to determine 269 interactions between coronavirus peptides and cell proteins, including specific interaction between the human G3BP1/2 protein and the ΦxFG peptide motif in the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein. The connection between G3BP1/2 and ΦxFG is important for viral replication and the destruction of stress granules – accumulations of proteins and RNA in the cytosol of the cell, which are involved in protective reactions.

It has been shown that a peptide inhibitor that disrupts the interaction of G3BP1/2 and nucleocapsid protein, suppressed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Thus, the research results can directly help the development of new specific antiviral drugs.