In the middle of the second wave of the corona pandemic, researchers deciphered a component of the virus that was previously completely hidden from them. This is a hidden gene, also known as an overlapping gene or “gene in another gene”. Overlapping genes are difficult to identify, but all the more meaningful. They can play a key role in the development of viruses and influence how they are combated.
The newly discovered gene is called “ORF3d” and, according to previous knowledge, triggers a strong antibody reaction in Covid 19 patients. Further properties are the researchers working with Chase W. Nelson, who published their work in eLife magazine, not known. The expert from Academia Sinica in Taiwan explains: “Overlapping genes could allow the coronavirus to replicate efficiently and thwart the host’s immunity. The existence and possibly also the functionality of overlapping genes could make it easier for us to control the coronavirus, for example with antiviral drugs. “
Coronavirus: Newly discovered gene should be able to trigger strong antibody reactions
According to the researchers, however, it is unlikely that the gene will lead to the release of T cells that can directly destroy virus-infected cells. Researchers from Great Britain had previously determined that T cells in the case of Sars-CoV-2 still react after half a year. A surprising revelation, which can serve as a further encouragement.
Research into the coronavirus is progressing more and more. Since Sars-CoV-2 is said to have only 15 genes, the discovery of ORF3d by Nelson and his colleagues is all the more significant. The scientist emphasizes: “If we do not perceive overlapping genes, there is a risk of overlooking important aspects of virus biology.”