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Bioinformatics . Persistent minimal sequences of SARS-CoV-2

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  • Bioinformatics . Persistent minimal sequences of SARS-CoV-2


    . 2020 Jul 30;btaa686.
    doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btaa686. Online ahead of print.
    Persistent minimal sequences of SARS-CoV-2

    Diogo Pratas 1 2 3 , Jorge M Silva 1 2



    Motivation: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused more than 14 million cases and more than half million deaths. Given the absence of implemented therapies, new analysis, diagnosis, and therapeutics are of great importance.
    Results: Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes from the current outbreak reveals the presence of short persistent DNA/RNA sequences that are absent from the human genome and transcriptome (PmRAWs). For the PmRAWs with length 12, only four exist at the same location in all SARS-CoV-2. At the gene level, we found one PmRAW of size 13 at the Spike glycoprotein coding sequence. This protein is fundamental for binding in human ACE2 and further use as an entry receptor to invade target cells. Applying protein structural prediction, we localized this PmRAW at the surface of the Spike protein, providing a potential targeted vector for diagnostics and therapeutics. Additionally, we show a new pattern of relative absent words (RAWs), characterized by the progressive increase of GC content (Guanine and Cytosine) according to the decrease of RAWs length, contrarily to the virus and host genome distributions. New analysis shows the same property during the Ebola virus outbreak. At a computational level, we improved the alignment-free method to identify pathogen-specific signatures in balance with GC measures and removed previous size limitations.
    Availability and implementation:
    Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.