IMPORTANT SARS-COV2 GENOME EVOLUTION STUDY FROM OUR GROUP AND COLLABORATORS WITH GROUPS FROM ITALY AND TURKEY
Our lab, together with collaborators from Italy and Turkey, has just published a study on codon usage and evolutionary divergences of SARS-Cov2 genes in the internationally respected scientific journal, Viruses: https://www.mdpi.com/1999-
Scientific understanding on the SARS-Cov2 virus genome is critical to effectively fight against the
pandemic. For this purpose, we analysed the nucleotide composition, codon usage and rate of protein divergence of the virus using 306 isolates reported across the world. Our findings can be an important resource in understanding the optimal treatment options for the Covid-19 disease. We found that SARS-Cov2 has a high AU content that influences its codon usage which appears
to be better adapted to the human host. Moreover, our results revealed that while the genome sequences of two membrane proteins of the virus are evolving slowly; genes encoding nucleocapsid (N), viral replicase and spike proteins (S) tend to evolve faster.
According to this work, we suggest that the high mutation rate on these proteins, which are mainly used to develop vaccines and targetted by anti-viral drugs, could represent a barrier to use some antiviral therapeutics against this disease. In addition, Importantly, these types of drugs could even exert a selective pressure and may result in treatment-resistant virus types. Last but not least, we discuss a possibility based also on partial evidence, for using a low dose of irradiation like X rays to ameliorate the inflammatory storm associated with COVID-19 and pneumonia.