Researchers have found two sugar-binding proteins that prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering the body.
The team, led by the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, probably found the weak point of SARS-CoV-2.
In new work, the authors studied the S-protein: the coronavirus uses this protein to bind to a cell receptor and penetrate inside; without it, the virus simply cannot penetrate into the cell.
Consequently, the virus uses so-called glycosylation as a masking mechanism to form a sugar coat in certain regions of the spike protein in order to hide from the host’s immune response.
The authors suggested that lectins could help find new proteins by interacting with the spike protein. The glycosylation sites of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein remain highly conserved among the circulating variants. Thus, if we identify the lectins that bind these glycosylation sites, then we can improve our methods of fighting the virus.
The team developed and tested a library of over 140 mammalian lectins. As a result, the authors found two proteins that bind to the SARS-CoV-2 protein – Clec4g and CD209c.
We now have tools that can bind the protective layer of the virus and block its entry into cells.