Special update on coronavirus puzzles

Started by bkoep

bkoep Staff Lv 1

In this special update we take a look at some of the best-scoring antiviral proteins designed so far by Foldit players. We then step into the laboratory to see what testing these molecules is actually going to look like. See the blog for more details!

Check out the newest Coronavirus Binder Design: Round 3 puzzle!

This video features Lexi Walls, Ph.D., who recently published important research on SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

Bruno Kestemont Lv 1

Your videos are excellent. Keep doing.

Just a question. If you know what is the binding site and possibly the human binding protein (entry point), why don't you give us the human protein for us to try to make a similar one ?

What is the role of the human protein? If we copy it, would it disturb some of the human protein function ?

bkoep Staff Lv 1

Yes, we do know how the human receptor binds to the CoV spike protein. In fact, that binding interaction is the starting structure for Beginner Puzzle (<150): Coronavirus!

You are also sharp to suggest that we mimic the human protein! That is the premise for the latest puzzle Coronavirus Binder Design: Round 3. In this puzzle, the starting structure includes a helix fragment from the human receptor ACE2 (the same as in the Beginner coronavirus puzzle). If we can design a new protein that includes this helix (and it folds up correctly), then our new designed protein should be able to make the same binding interactions with the CoV target.

The human receptor ACE2 is an enzyme that normally helps to regulate heart and kidney function (by breaking down a signaling peptide called angiotensin). The part of ACE2 that binds CoV is not directly involved in normal ACE2 enzyme function. We're pretty sure that we can copy the virus-binding part of ACE2 without interfering with normal ACE2 function—especially since we are only copying the surface residues of ACE2.