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The mechanism underlying the emergence of elucidated viral mutants

Viral recombination is a major evolutionary mechanism of RNA viruses that promotes adaptation and genetic diversity. Recombination occurs when at least two viral variants co-infect the same (human) host cell and exchange gene segments. This study revealed the underlying molecular mechanism and trigger for polymerase switching between different parental viral genomes during RNA replication. This can result in recombination and associated new gene combinations. Credit: TU Delft

The international consortium, led by Delft University of Technology and the University of North Carolina, was the first to successfully investigate the molecular origin of recombination in RNA viruses. Recombination occurs due to a temporary interruption during the virus copying process. That is, the exchange of viral RNA segments. This can lead to the emergence of new viral variants, but this mechanism can also be exploited to induce infeasible defective viruses. Research today Molecular cell..

The research led by Professor Nynke Dekker’s research group is Molecular level How the RNA virus is recombined: if there is a problem with RNA copy In the process (also known as replication), the molecular copy mechanism (also known as the polymerase) jumps from one RNA strand to another and continues copying there.This causes ~ RecombinantIf the RNA strands produced are a combination of different RNA strands, the process can lead to the development of new viral variants. “We were able to first identify problems with the copying process at the molecular level in the lab, and then observe the results of recombination in cells and finally in mice, with other institutions. It’s really great that we could understand, thanks to the cooperation of. This mechanism. “

Look for virus inhibitors

As experienced during the corona pandemic, new viral variants can have disastrous consequences. Therefore, it is important to find a way to stay ahead of new variants as well as stop existing viruses. Researchers have found that the replication process and the development of recombination may be affected by a new class of antiviral drugs that specifically target this replication mechanism. There seems to be an important consideration here. When large amounts of antiviral drugs are deployed, recombination occurs so often that RNA strands are chopped too much to produce new viable viral particles. But conversely, if the amount of antiviral drug is too low, the copy process can cause recombination at a viable level, facilitating the creation of new viral variants. Postdoc Richard Janisen said, “We have found that it can influence the copy process and the emergence of recombination, so we can design new antiviral drugs that prevent both viral copying and the emergence of new mutants due to recombination. It may be. “

Be vigilant

Further research into the replication mechanism is needed to prove that it is an effective route to stop the virus.”The polymerase enzymes involved in genome replication appear to be able to jump between RNA strands without specific triggers. Virus inhibitors affect such skips, but create new viral variants,” Decker said. It is also lurking. This study shows that we need to be vigilant and carefully observe both current and new molecular effects. virus Inhibitor. ”


Coronavirus: What happens if a person is infected with two variants at the same time?


For more information:
Nynke H. Dekker, Induction of Intramolecular and Intermolecular Template Switching as a Therapeutic Mechanism for RNA Viruses, Molecular cell (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.molcel.2021.10.003.. www.cell.com/molecule-cell/fu… 1097-2765 (21) 00832-7

Quote: The underlying mechanism of the elucidated emergence of viral variants (October 22, 2021) can be found at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-10-mechanism-underlying-emergence-virus-variants.html. Acquired on October 22, 2021.

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The mechanism underlying the emergence of elucidated viral mutants

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