USARS-CoV-2, a tiny protein, known as nucleocapsid (N) protein, may play an important role in treatments and vaccines against Covid-19. Who said it was a team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University, in the United States, who analyzed the protein’s structure in 3D. The results are published in the journal Nanoscale.
“We have discovered new properties of the N protein structure that may have important implications for antibody testing and the long-term effects of epidemic viruses related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS),” he says, in a note cited GalileoDeep Kelly, responsible for conducting the study.
The analysis revealed that the N protein is conserved in the epidemic coronaviruses associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV-2, Civet, SARS-CoV-1, MERS), including recent variants of SARS-CoV-2. Other coronaviruses have different structures, such as those that cause the common cold (OC43, HKU1, NL63, and 229E).
Thus, scientists are confident that through discoveries related to the nucleoprotein, treatments and vaccines can be improved. “Because the N protein is locked between variants of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1, the treatments aimed at achieving it can help relieve more severe or permanent symptoms,” the researcher explains.
Note that most of the “ weapons ” against Covid-19 are developed based on protein elevation, which can easily be the target of mutations, leading to new variants such as those in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and the United States. On the other hand, the N protein, as Galileo explains, is protected from external stresses that cause the spike to change. In addition, after being released from infected cells, the N protein floats into the blood and, with this free circulation, causes a strong immune response. “If the treatments are designed to target where the antibodies bind to the N protein, they could help reduce inflammation and long-term immune responses against Covid-19,” notes Kelly.