Biochemical and mathematical lessons from the evolution of the SARS- CoV-2 virus: paths for novel antiviral warfare - Sorbonne Université Access content directly
Preprints, Working Papers, ... Year : 2020

Biochemical and mathematical lessons from the evolution of the SARS- CoV-2 virus: paths for novel antiviral warfare

Nicolas Cluzel
Yvon Maday
Antoine Danchin

Abstract

In the fight against the spread of COVID-19 the emphasis is on vaccination or on reactivating existing drugs used for other purposes. The tight links that necessarily exist between the virus as it multiplies and the metabolism of its host are systematically ignored. Here we show that the metabolism of all cells is coordinated by the availability of a core building block of the cell’s genome, cytidine triphosphate (CTP). This metabolite is also the key to the synthesis of the viral envelope and to the translation of its genome into proteins. This unique role explains why evolution has led to the early emergence in animals of an antiviral immunity enzyme, viperin, that synthesizes a toxic analogue of CTP. The constraints arising from this dependency guide the evolution of the virus. With this in mind, we explored the real-time experiment taking place before our eyes using probabilistic modelling approaches to the molecular evolution of the virus. We have thus followed, almost on a daily basis, the evolution of the composition of the viral genome to link it to the progeny produced over time, particularly in the form of blooms that sparked a firework of viral mutations. Some of those certainly increase the propagation of the virus. This led us to make out the critical role in this evolution of several proteins of the virus, such as its nucleocapsid N, and more generally to begin to understand how the virus ties up the host metabolism to its own benefit. A way for the virus to escape CTP-dependent control in cells would be to infect cells that are not expected to grow, such as neurons. This may account for unexpected body sites of viral development in the present epidemic.
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hal-02987903 , version 1 (04-11-2020)

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Nicolas Cluzel, Amaury Lambert, Yvon Maday, Gabriel Turinici, Antoine Danchin. Biochemical and mathematical lessons from the evolution of the SARS- CoV-2 virus: paths for novel antiviral warfare. 2020. ⟨hal-02987903⟩
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