Covid19: IISc develops Mini-proteins to prevent Infection

Researchers from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore have developed a new class of artificial peptides or mini-proteins, that can inactivate the viruses like SARS-CoV-2.

Key Facts

  • This study was published in Nature Chemical Biology journal.
  • Mini-proteins will block virus entry into our cells. It will also clump virus particles together by reducing ability of virus to infect.

How was this mini-protein developed?

Researchers also noted that, protein-protein interaction is like that of a lock and a key. This interaction can be hindered by a lab-made mini-protein that prevents ‘key’ from binding to ‘lock’. Researchers used this approach for designing mini-proteins. These mini-proteins can bind to, and block spike protein on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 virus, that helps it to enter and infect cells in human. This binding was also characterised by cryo-electron microscopy and other biophysical methods.

Characteristics of Mini-proteins

Mini-proteins are helical and hairpin-shaped peptides. Each mini-proteins are capable of pairing up with another. This pairing forms a dimer. Each dimeric ‘bundle’ presents two ‘faces’ for interacting with two target molecules.

SARS-CoV-2 spike protein interaction

Researchers tested their hypothesis by using a mini-protein called SIH-5 for targeting the interaction between ACE2 protein of human cells and spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Spike protein is a complex of 3 similar polypeptides. Each polypeptide contains a Receptor Binding Domain (RBD), which binds to ACE2 receptor on the surface of host cell and thus facilitates viral entry into the cell. SIH-5 mini-protein was designed for blocking the binding of RBD to human ACE2.



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