Linked monkeypox outbreaks to changes in the three-dimensional structure of the virus genome

Linked monkeypox outbreaks to changes in the three-dimensional structure of the virus genome

Globallookpress Carlos LujðN/Keystone Press Agency

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Chinese molecular biologists have discovered that all monkeypox virus (MPXV) samples from newly infected patients contain a change in the three-dimensional structure of the C9L gene.

The bioRxiv website indicates that the C9L gene is responsible for suppressing innate immunity, and can contribute to the rapid spread of the virus.

Scientists from China came to this conclusion, from their study of the three-dimensional structure of the genome of monkeypox virus. They believe that several factors can influence the activity of some virus genes, such as changing the shape of the protein “sheath” of the virus’s DNA and RNA, or the appearance and disappearance of different loops and crumbs in its structure.

For this, scientists decoded 200 African and European samples of the virus genome, and based on their results, they designed a three-dimensional structure of the DNA of the virus and its RNA matrix.

The result showed that part of the RNA matrix of the virus located within the C9L gene, contains a nucleotide sequence that promotes the formation of the so-called G-quadruplex. Biologists give this name to a three-dimensional structure, similar in shape to three rings located next to each other.

As a rule, the appearance of such structures within the DNA strands very reduces the possibility of “reading” the genes that are next to them. It appears that the virus and cells use it to regulate the activity of parts of the genome that appear near the G-quadruplex. In the case of monkeypox virus, G-quadruplex regulates the action of a gene that plays a key role in suppressing innate immunity.

By comparing the structure of the C9L gene in the samples, the researchers discovered that the structure of the G-quadruplex had changed. And it became less stable from a chemical point of view, which led to an increase in the activity of this part of the RNA of the virus.
According to the researchers, similar changes are observed in all samples of 2022. Therefore, the transformation in the three-dimensional structure of the genome may have played a major role in the increase in monkeypox virus infections and contributed to its spread among the populations of Europe, the United States and other regions of the world.

Source: tass

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