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IIT Mandi scientists make vital Covid breakthrough

The Statesman logo The Statesman 10-08-2020 SANJEEV KUMAR
a man in a blue shirt: IIT Mandi scientists make vital Covid breakthrough © Provided by The Statesman IIT Mandi scientists make vital Covid breakthrough

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi researchers in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University and University of South Florida researchers have decoded the Covid-19 virus that will help in finding a cure for the infectious disease.

The research team had used computational tools to understand an important part of the viral proteome called Intrinsically Disordered Protein Regions (IDPRs).

The research paper had been co-authored by Dr Rajanish Giri, Assistant Professor at IIT Mandi along with scholars and US scientists, Dr Christopher J Oldfield and Dr Vladimir N Uversky.

The research paper that had been published in Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences journal states that the Covid-19 virus essentially consists of the genetic molecule, RNA, enclosed in an envelope made of lipids and proteins. Once in the host, the virus overpasses the host defence mechanisms, inserts its RNA into the host cells and then it hijacks the host cell machinery for production of viral proteins after which the infected cell starts generating toxic viral proteins which leads to various conditions and symptoms.

“In Covid-19, the RNA is translated first into proteins which perform a wide range of functions. Since protein functions depend both on ordered and disordered regions, it is important to understand the whole proteome considering both ordered and disordered proteins. The set of proteins or proteomes comprises both ordered regions and disordered regions in proteins,” Dr Rajanish Giri said.

He said Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs) and Intrinsically Disordered Protein Regions (IDPRs) are gaining attention in recent times as they play vital roles in various biological processes.

The IDP and IDPRs are strongly correlated with virulence of viruses, understanding their structure, functions in Covid-19 and help in finding ways to cure its effects. Using computational tools, it is possible to investigate the propensities of the proteins and regions that may or may not form the structure, he added.

He said many of these proteins contain disorder-based binding motifs and the study provides grounds for better understanding of its proteins, interactions with other viral proteins and interaction with host proteins in different physiological conditions.

“The process of rational drug design is currently limited since it mostly ignores the presence of intrinsic disorder in target proteins. The understanding of the structure of these regions in the Covid-19 proteome is valuable to structural biologists involved in high throughput and structure-based screening for drug development,” he said.

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