Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis and other scientific organizations in the United States have identified the ability of the coronavirus to infect a person in a new way. Phys.org writes about this.
The usual mechanism of invasion of SARS-CoV-2 into the body works as follows: with the help of a spike protein, the virus clings to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) on the cell surface and penetrates it. Experts have found that due to the mutation, the coronavirus may not use ACE2 receptors. This discovery shows that the virus can change unexpectedly and find new ways to infect the body.
Scientists have conducted most of the studies of the coronavirus with primate kidney cells because SARS-CoV-2 is spreading rapidly in them. However, a new experiment has shown that human lung cancer cells that lack angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 are susceptible to a mutated virus grown in the laboratory (variant E484D S).
“It was an incredible surprise for us,” said one of the study participants.
Experts have suggested that the coronavirus is under “selective pressure,” which forces it to look for new ways to enter cells, bypassing the standard scheme using the ACE2 receptor. Scientists called this phenomenon “frightening.”
They clarified that it is still unclear whether such a mutation is possible in real 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 the antibodies of vaccinated patients, although the blood serum of those who were ill was less resistant to this virus, the scientists concluded.