Assessing Viral-Cellular Protein-Protein Interactions in COVID-19

Illustration of coronavirus

The four structural proteins of human coronaviruses (CoVs), including those of the COVID-19 disease-causing SARS-CoV-2, are spike (S), membrane (M), nucleocapsid (N), and envelope (E) proteins. E protein is most enigmatic because it is the least characterized protein among them. Hannah Murphy, a graduate student from the department of veterinary biomedical sciences will study the important contribution of SARS-CoV-2 E protein to COVID-19 disease pathogenesis and its potential interactions with cellular proteins.

“The high amino acid sequence identity in the important structural domains between the E proteins of the SARS-CoV-1 that caused the 2003 SARS pandemic and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) suggest that these two proteins may share similar functions,” said Murphy. “Published reports have shown that SARS-CoV-1 E protein can specifically interact with two key cellular proteins that can significantly contribute to the disease pathogenesis.”

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.