IIT Mandi researchers reveal structure of a key protein in Covid-19 virus

V Rishi Kumar | | | Updated on: May 27, 2021
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Understanding structure and functions of key viral proteins can help develop anti-viral therapeutics

A team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Mandi (IIT Mandi), led by Dr Rajanish Giri, Assistant Professor, School of Basic Sciences, have shed light on the part of structure of a key protein in the Covid-19 virus.

This helps in understanding its mode of action, its role in the spread, severity of the disease and development of antiviral therapeutics.

The team’s recent findings have been published in the journal ‘Current Research in Virological Science,’ co-authored by Dr Giri and his research team along with Dr Neha Garg from the Banaras Hindu University.

Current Covid-19 treatments simply manage symptoms while the body fights off the infection with its immune defence system. There are, as yet, no confirmed antiviral drugs that can stop the virus from replicating. One route to neutralising any virus is to attack its proteins; such an approach holds true for the Covid-19 virus as well and scientists across the globe are involved in studies to elucidate the structure and functions of these proteins to understand the viral disease and develop drugs that are effective against the virus.

“From a conformational or ‘shape’ point of view, several proteins contain ordered and intrinsically disordered regions. These classical conformations are in the proteins in the SARS-CoV-2 virus as well. The structure of non-structural protein 1 (NSP1) is composed of 180 amino acids. The first 1-127 region has been experimentally shown to form an independent structure by Clark, Green & Petit from University of Alabama. However, there was no experimental proof given by any group on the 131 to 180 amino acid regions of this NSP1 protein, which plays a key role in suppressing the host immune system. With the support of Circular Dichroism spectroscopy and Molecular Dynamics Simulations, our group at IIT Mandi has deciphered the conformation of this region in isolation,” explains Giri.

It is therefore important to understand the molecular mechanisms, biophysical interactions, and chemistry of the interplay of the NSP1 with the host cell.

The IIT Mandi team has experimentally studied the structural conformations of SARS-CoV-2 NSP1 under various conditions.

Understanding the conformational structure and associated functions of key viral proteins such as the NSP1 can eventually help develop therapeutics that can target these proteins and stop the virus in its tracks.

Published on May 27, 2021

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