(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Pirbright Institute have identified key changes in SARS-CoV-2 that made the virus pathogenic for humans. Their research is published in the journal PLOS Biology.
It found that the genetic adaptations that allowed the virus to pass from bats to humans were similar to those that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003. According to scientists, this finding suggests the existence of a common mechanism by which this family of viruses mutates to go from animals to humans.
Experts compared SARS-CoV-2 and the RaTG13 virus, 96 percent similar to it. They swapped the regions of the S-protein (spike protein), which is responsible for the binding of the virus to human cell receptors ACE2.
It turned out that SARS-CoV-2 spikes containing RaTG13 regions cannot effectively bind to ACE2, while RaTG13 spikes with SARS-CoV-2 regions did not have such difficulties.
According to the scientists, the results of the study indicate that changes in the S-protein SARS-CoV-2 occurred historically, which may have played a key role in allowing the virus to cross the species barrier.
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