New 3D Imaging Techniques Improve Knowledge of Coronavirus

    A new method for image processing will improve the three-dimensional reconstruction of virus proteins, including the “spike protein” of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus responsible for covid-19, considered as “the key “You need to enter the cell

    This has been achieved by researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid, the National Center for Biotechnology of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and the University of Texas in Austin (United States), and the results are published in Nature Communications.

    The researchers propose in their work to use new computational methods to process images and improve the analysis and three-dimensional reconstruction of biological macromolecules, and they have found that knowing the composition of these macromolecules -like proteins- is relatively simple, but not the shape. in which they are arranged in a three-dimensional structure.

    The methodology proposed by the researchers improves the visualization of the three-dimensional reconstructions obtained by “cryo-electron microscopy”, as well as the quality of these images.

    “This work allows us a broader understanding of the proteins and other macromolecules that support essential processes for life, providing new tools for structural biologists to interpret more and more reliably,” explained researcher Javier Vargas, from the Department of Optics of the Complutense University of Madrid.

    These methods have already been applied to various biological macromolecules with significant biomedical and scientific relevance, including 3D reconstructions of the SARS-CoV-2 “Spike S” protein.

    “This protein is essential for the entry of the virus into human cells. The processing of this protein with these new methods allowed us to analyze regions that previously had not been able to be interpreted ”, explained the physicist in a note released by the University.

    The researcher Javier Vargas began the study when he was working as a professor at McGill University (Canada) and ended it upon his return to the Complutense University of Madrid.

    The researchers consider that this work can be used to improve the construction of atomic models without previous information of macromolecules from 3D reconstructions obtained through cryo-electron microscopy.

    “This information is essential to understand and characterize macromolecules from a biochemical point of view and useful for the design of new drugs; for example, new drugs to block the access of SARS-CoV-2 to the interior of cells ”, Vargas highlighted.

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