Scientists at the University of Cambridge have uncovered key genetic changes that could cause the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The corresponding study is published in the journal PLOS Biology.
So, experts found genetic adaptations that turned out to be similar to those produced by the SARS-CoV virus itself, which caused an outbreak of pneumonia in 2003. Scientists believe a common mechanism allows this group of viruses to mutate and pass from animal to human.
In the course of their research, experts studied the RaTG13 coronavirus, which is related to SARS-CoV-2. Its gene is 96% identical to that of the causative agent COVID-19. It is noted that in RaTG13 the S-protein, which plays a major role in the infection of a healthy cell, cannot effectively bind to human cell receptors.
However, if you insert the same protein into some S-protein fragments of SARS-CoV-2, the infection efficiency will increase.
Scientists have also determined that the virus does not bind to the cell receptors of bats, that is, between animals and humans there is a so-called “intermediate host” of the infection.