New Hidden Gene Discovered In COVID-19 Virus

Research about the coronavirus has formed a vital duty due to its effect on the people of the world in 2020.  During this process, Researchers have discovered a mystical hidden gene in SARS-CoV-2 the virus that is the reason behind the formation of the coronavirus disease which has been neglected before. The findings are illustrated in the journal eLife.

In the research, an overlapping gene in SARS-CoV-2  has been determined which is said to be a type of ‘gene within a gene’ overlapping the arrangement of other genes. It was also analyzed that this gene was found formerly in pangolin coronavirus reflecting the growth or fall of this gene during the growth of the SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses. It has been identified that ORF3d brings out strong antibody feedback in COVID-19 patients and the gene’s protein is formed during human infection.

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles.
Image Source – amnh

Chase Nelson said “We don’t yet know its function or if there’s clinical significance. “But we predict this gene is relatively unlikely to be detected by a T-cell response, in contrast to the antibody response. And maybe that has something to do with how the gene was able to arise.”

In a quick overview, genes are observed to be like written languages made up of a string of letters (in RNA viruses, the nucleotides A, U, G, and C) transmitting information. Viruses do suffer in presenting the overlapping genes. Genes may be overlapping and multifunctional along with info being encoded depending where the reading starts. It is difficult to identify the overlapping genes and scientific computers are not designed to identify them but they are found to be common in viruses. It generally happens as RNA viruses have a higher mutation rate keeping the gene count lower and avoid a large number of mutations. This concludes that the viruses have been growing a type of information compression system in which one letter in the genome can participate in two or even three different genes.

Nelson said  “Overlapping genes may be one of an arsenal of ways in which coronaviruses have evolved to replicate efficiently, thwart host immunity, or get themselves transmitted. Knowing that overlapping genes exist and how they function may reveal new avenues for coronavirus control, for example through antiviral drugs.”

He also added “Missing overlapping genes puts us in peril of overlooking important aspects of viral biology. In terms of genome size, SARS-CoV-2 and its relatives are among the longest RNA viruses that exist. They are thus perhaps more prone to ‘genomic trickery’ than other RNA viruses.”

Nelson also developed a computer program that shows the genomes for patterns of genetic change that are unique to overlapping genes. He teamed up with partners from institutions including the Technical University of Munich and the University of California, Berkeley, to execute the software and more methods for the benefits of the latest data present for SARS-CoV-2. The group members hope that other researchers will examine the gene that is detected in the lab to find its function and find out about the role it has been playing in the rising of the coronavirus.

It can be said that the virus which has only about 15 genes, exploring more about it will help us to fight against it. Well, only time will say how it helps us in battle against coronavirus.

Source – amnh

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