Experiments in mice have shown that it is this receptor that transports the virus from the nasal mucous membranes to the central nervous system.
Scientists previously knew that a new type of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and its relative SARS-CoV enter the body’s cells through the ACE2 receptor. However, the second did not have such a serious distribution at one time.
The study of the mechanisms of the spread of the virus began with the sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. An unusual cleavage site was found there, similar to no other coronavirus before. Scientists believe that this feature helps SARS-CoV-2 create additional receptor binding sites on the cell surface.
It was known that SARS-CoV-2 uses the ACE2 receptor to infect our cells, but viruses often use several factors to maximize their infectious potential. When the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence became available at the end of January, we were surprised. Compared to its predecessor, the new coronavirus has acquired another part on its surface proteins, which is also found in the thorns of many deadly human viruses, including Ebola, HIV, and highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza.
Giuseppe Balistreri, study author and head of the viral cell biology research group at the University of Helsinki
It is not yet clear whether such an explanation is true for SARS-CoV-2, scientists say. Probably, in most patients, the immune system does manage and suppress this pathway.