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Apr 16, 2021

Simulations reveal how dominant SARS-CoV-2 strain binds to host, succumbs to antibodies

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, supercomputing

Large-scale supercomputer simulations at the atomic level show that the dominant G form variant of the COVID-19-causing virus is more infectious partly because of its greater ability to readily bind to its target host receptor in the body, compared to other variants. These research results from a Los Alamos National Laboratory-led team illuminate the mechanism of both infection by the G form and antibody resistance against it, which could help in future vaccine development.

“We found that the interactions among the basic building blocks of the Spike protein become more symmetrical in the G form, and that gives it more opportunities to bind to the in the host—in us,” said Gnana Gnanakaran, corresponding author of the paper published today in Science Advances. “But at the same time, that means antibodies can more easily neutralize it. In essence, the variant puts its head up to bind to the receptor, which gives antibodies the chance to attack it.”

Researchers knew that the variant, also known as D614G, was more infectious and could be neutralized by antibodies, but they didn’t know how. Simulating more than a million and requiring about 24 million CPU hours of supercomputer time, the new work provides molecular-level detail about the behavior of this variant’s Spike.

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