Coronavirus found a new way to infect people
Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis and other U.S. scientific organizations have identified the coronavirus’s ability to infect people in a new way.
The usual mechanism of SARS-CoV-2 invasion into the body works as follows: using a spike protein, the virus clings to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) on the cell surface and penetrates it. As the specialists found out, thanks to the mutation, the coronavirus can not use ACE2 receptors. This discovery shows that the virus is capable of changing unexpectedly and finding new ways to infect the body.
Scientists have done most of the coronavirus research with primate kidney cells because SARS-CoV-2 spreads rapidly in them. But the new experiment showed that human lung cancer cells lacking angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 were susceptible to the mutant virus grown in the lab (variant E484D S).
“It was an incredible surprise to us,” one study participant noted.
The experts suggested that the coronavirus was under “selective pressure” to find new ways to enter cells, bypassing the standard pattern using the ACE2 receptor. This phenomenon the scientists called frightening.
They clarified that it is not yet clear whether such a mutation is possible under realistic conditions outside the laboratory. According to the researchers, they must find an alternative receptor by which the virus enters the cells.
The E484D S mutation remains susceptible to antibodies from vaccinated patients, although the serum of over-infected patients has proven less resistant to the virus, the scientists summarized.