The Ties that Bind
Researchers at the Oregon State University Biochemistry Department have taken a key step toward developing new drugs and vaccines to combat COVID-19.
Credit: National Science Foundation
The Ties that Bind
Hi, I'm Mo with the NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.
COVID-19 has challenged and changed our lives and livelihoods -- in ways we understand and in many ways we have yet to fully grasp. With more people getting vaccinated, some of us, for the first time in quite a while, have started to feel more confident about the near future.
Researchers at the Oregon State University Biochemistry Department have taken a key step toward developing new drugs and vaccines to combat COVID-19, by looking into how one special protein interacts with the coronavirus' genetic material coded by RNA.
Cousin to DNA, RNA instructs cells on how to multiply the virus. Among the coronavirus proteins, the nucleocapsid protein -- or the N-protein, is the viral RNA's biggest partner.
The N-protein is critical because it protects and packages the RNA into infectious viruses.
The researchers found that two copies of the N-protein attached to each other bind much tighter to RNA, and that the coronavirus needs many copies of the N-protein to bind RNA. They also identified areas of the N-protein essential to bind RNA and give the virus its spherical shape necessary to multiply.
Understanding these details about how N-protein interacts with RNA gives scientists the information they need to build the next generation of drugs and vaccines for COVID-19 making us all feel more confident about the future.
Discover how the U.S. government's National Science Foundation is advancing research at nsf.gov.
"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.
Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation.
Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.