June 13, 2024

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COVID-19: How does the virus hijack and damage the alveoli?

How does the virus hijack and damage the alveoli?

How does the virus hijack and damage the alveoli? How exactly does the new coronavirus hijack and quickly damage human lung cells?

By combining bioengineered human alveolar cells with high-precision mass spectrometry technology, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have drawn the first molecular response map of human lung cells infected with the new coronavirus, thus providing a pathological basis and novelty for blocking the new coronavirus. Therapeutic target.

COVID-19: How does the virus hijack and damage the alveoli?


Researchers have discovered that an important type of protein modification, phosphorylation, becomes abnormal in lung cells infected with the new coronavirus.

Protein phosphorylation plays a major role in regulating protein functions in organism cells. In normal cells, protein abundance and protein phosphorylation are usually highly controlled processes.

However, they found that the new coronavirus confuses lung cells, causing abnormal changes in the number of proteins and the frequency of protein phosphorylation in these cells. These abnormal changes help the virus to multiply and eventually destroy cells. The destruction of infected cells can lead to extensive lung damage.


Researchers say that after the new coronavirus enters the lung cells, it begins to quickly use the core resources of the cells, and these resources are necessary for the normal growth and function of the cells. Viruses use these resources to multiply while evading the attack of the human immune system. In this way, a new virus is formed and then leaves the severely damaged lung cells, causing it to self-destruct. These new viruses then infect other cells, repeating the same cycle.


The researchers examined the alveolar cells within 1 hour to 24 hours after the new coronavirus infection to understand the immediate (1, 3, and 6 hours after the new coronavirus infection) changes in the lung cells and the changes that occurred 24 hours after the infection, and then Uninfected cells are compared. Extract all proteins from infected and uninfected alveolar cells (corresponding to different time points) and label them with a unique barcode label to reliably quantify the phosphorylation abundance in proteins and cells.


The results showed that compared with normal uninfected lung cells, lung cells infected with the new coronavirus showed huge changes in the abundance and phosphorylation events of thousands of proteins. In addition, the new coronavirus caused a large number of such changes as early as 1 hour after infection, and laid the foundation for the complete hijacking of host lung cells.

In order to determine the potential opportunities for the new coronavirus treatment, the researchers also analyzed the data and found at least 18 existing clinically approved drugs, initially developed for other medical conditions, may prevent the proliferation of the new coronavirus in lung cells, and are expected to be used Coronavirus treatment




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