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An international and multidisciplinary team led by researchers at the University of Oxford, University of Glasgow, and University of Heidelberg, has uncovered the interactions that SARS-CoV-2 RNA establishes with the host cell, many of which are fundamental for infection.

Coronavirus illustration

These discoveries pave the way for the development of new therapeutic strategies for COVID-19 with broad-range antiviral potential.

The genetic information of SARS-CoV-2 is encoded in an RNA molecule instead DNA. This RNA must be multiplied, translated, and packaged into new viral particles to produce the viral progeny. Despite the complexity of these processes, SARS-CoV-2 only encodes a handful of proteins able to engage with viral RNA. To circumvent this limitation SARS-CoV-2 hijacks cellular proteins and repurposes it for its own benefit. However, the identity of these proteins has remained unknown until now.

Researchers from the University of Oxford in collaboration with other labs across UK and Europe have developed a new approach to discover in a comprehensive manner the proteins that 'stick' to SARS-CoV-2 RNA in infected cells. With this method, authors uncovered that SARS-CoV-2 RNA hijacks more than a hundred cellular proteins, which appear to play critical roles in the viral life cycle.

Read the full article on the University of Oxford website.

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