CONCEPT PAPER | doi:10.20944/preprints202004.0213.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Biochemistry Keywords: covid-19; rlmE MTase; new drug target; corona diagnosis; corona pandemic
Online: 13 April 2020 (12:33:22 CEST)
Covid-19 infections are rapidly spreading worldwide with more than 100000 death and thus understanding the molecular mechanism of tropism of human cells is an urgent need for drug design. We have described here a bioinformatics approach to predict the functional aspects of non-structural nsp16 protein of Corona virus. The covid-19 7098 AA large polyprotein was degraded into sixteen proteins and last nsp16 protein was found an RlmE type rRNA methyltransferase. Nsp16 has no similarity to bacterial RlmABCD but has 25 percent similarity to the bacterial RlmE protein which methylates the U2551 2-hydroxy group of Ribose. The nsp16 proteins of different corona viruses like covid-19, bat-coronavirus, SARS and MERS have strong homology. Mrm2 and Dim1 like yeast and mammalian rRNA methyltransferases have 26-33 percent homologies but not with 2-O-capping MTase as reported previously. Rrp8 MTases also has no similarity to nsp16. We postulated that mitochondrial rRNA methylation of bronchial cells were mediated by the nsp16 protein causing inhibition of protein synthesis due to poor assembly of aminoacyl-tRNA or mRNA and peptidyl transferase at the PTC. This is one of the new molecular mechanism of corona virus cellular tropism and different than ACE-2 mediated blockage of cellular signalling to inhibit aldesterone biosynthesis with abnormal Na+ ions in cells. We also designed primers based on nsp16 cDNA sequence (nt 20659-21552, accession no MT121215) specific for Covid-19 diagnosis by RT-PCR.