Months after the corona pandemic began, scientists have found a previously unknown component of the coronavirus.
Although the Corona-Pandemie Scientists keep reporting new findings about the dangerous pathogen when it has already progressed for months. Researchers have now found a well-hidden gene in the genetic code of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. So far it has always been overlooked.
Corona pandemic: This discovery surprises researchers
The newly identified gene is called “ORF3d” and belongs to the so-called “overlapping genes”. These genes themselves contain genes that are hidden by nucleotides, the building blocks of nucleic acids in RNA. The special thing about it: genes like ORF3d are difficult to identify in genetic sequences and could mean a serious blind spot in the case of the coronavirus.
“Failure to overlook overlapping genes runs the risk of neglecting important aspects of viral biology,” so the bioinformatician Chase Nelson of the American Museum of Natural History. Among other things, these genes could be responsible for the successful replication of the coronavirus, thwarting the immune response and virus transmission, Nelson explains.
That is what the hidden gene does
So far it is known about ORF3d that it triggers a strong antibody reaction in Covid-19 patients. What other viral purposes can be ascribed to the gene and what role it has already played in the corona pandemic, however, is not yet known. At least according to Nelson, it is unlikely that it will lead to the release of T cells. These can directly destroy virus-infected cells. Nevertheless, the discovery of an additional gene of the coronavirus is significant, especially since the pathogen only has 15 known genes.