This fifth research effort aims to better understand the origin and structure of the SARS-CoV-2 genome, the selection pressures on the virus, the structure of the virus sub-clades and the impacts of mutations on virulence, infectivity, survival, and transmission. This project supports the other four activities by giving us a deeper understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the context of other coronaviruses. Key questions are: Which animal hosts are the main natural reservoir for the virus? When did it cross from animal to human? Is it adapting to the human host? And, what are likely future changes in the virus?
By analysing all available sequences of 3CLPro (main protease) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we can identify the degree of conservation of specific amino-acid residues. The stick representation provides insights into the binding regions of the protein around which several key residues are conserved. Additionally, several residues farther away from the binding site are also conserved, implying potential long-range interactions in the protein.
If you wish to contribute and have interests in this area, please get in touch by emailing Dr Hugh Martin (h.s.martin “at” ucl.ac.uk) with your name, institution, a one-paragraph summary of your area of expertise, and up to 5 of your most relevant publications, making clear which of the 6 areas of coronavirus research you are seeking to contribute to in this consortium.