A Single Point Mutation In The Nucleocapsid Protein Increases Covid Virus Infectivity By More Than 100 Times

A recent paper by Syed et al. demonstrates that mutations in the Nucleocapsid (N) protein, one of the four structural proteins in SARS-CoV-2 in addition to the Spike protein, plays a critical role in the increased transmission and possibly virulence of the Delta variant. Previous studies of increased transmission and other virological properties of SARS-CoV-2 variants focus almost exclusively on the Spike (S) protein. This work emphasizes that it is of equal importance to look at the effects of mutations throughout the entire viral genome.

To study the effects of structural protein mutations on the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2, the authors created a new experimental system which they call SARS-CoV-2 virus-like particles (SC2-VLPs). These are particles in which the structural proteins, N, S, the Envelope (E), and Membrane (M), exist as heterologous RNA which contains the SARS-CoV-2 packaging signal.

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© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.