Home Science & Technology Using mathematics to predict SARS-CoV-2 protein mutations

Using mathematics to predict SARS-CoV-2 protein mutations


A team of researchers used mathematics to predict which regions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein were most likely to mutate. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL, US Department of Energy

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Tuskegee University used mathematics to predict which regions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein are most likely to mutate.

In a study published in Polymersthe team analyzed topology from more than 13,000 protein data bank structures and found that mutations in the viral spike protein are likely to occur in regions of high topological free energy, making the protein less stable.

The omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 mutated in the region that corresponds to the researchers’ calculations, which confirms the results of the article.

This methodology allows scientists to predict where protein mutations may occur using mathematics and can be applied to any protein, potentially opening the door to a better understanding of viral dynamics and more effective drug therapy.

“We think this approach is virus-independent,” said ORNL’s Bobby Sumpter. “It’s all based on protein topology.”

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Additional information:
Quenisha Baldwin et al., Local Topological Free Energy of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein, Polymers (2022). DOI: 10.3390/polym14153014

Citation: Using math to predict SARS-CoV-2 protein mutations (2022, September 6) Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-math-sars-cov-protein-mutations .html

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