Dr. Pavlopoulou, together with her collaborators from Italy and Greece, has just published their study on codon usage and evolutionary divergences of SARS-Cov2 genes in the internationally respected scientific journal, Viruses.
The Covid-19 outbreak continues to dramatically impact people’s lives all around the world. New scientific understanding on the SARS-Cov2 virus genome is critical to effectively fight against the pandemic. Dr. Pavlopoulou, research group leader of the Computational Systems Biology Laboratory at IBG, collaborated with experts from La Spienza University, Rome and the National Technical University of Athens to unravel the evolution pattern of SARS-Cov2. For this purpose, they analysed the nucleotide composition, codon usage and rate of protein divergence of the virus using 306 isolates reported across the world.
Their findings represent an important resource in understanding the optimal treatment options for the Covid-19 disease.
They found that the codon usage pattern of SARS-CoV-2 is more similar to the human one, suggesting that the virus can adapt better to the human host. Moreover, their results revealed that while the genome sequences of two membrane proteins of the virus are evolving slowly; genes encoding nucleocapsid (N), viral replicase and spike proteins (S) tend to evolve faster.
The researchers suggest that the high mutation rate on these proteins, which are mainly used to develop vaccines and targetted by anti-viral drugs, could represent a barrier to use some antiviral therapeutics against this disease. Importantly, according to them; these types of drugs could even exert a selective pressure and may result in treatment-resistant virus types.https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4915/12/5/498