Big Bang: Proteins are an essential component of life and have made headlines over the last year with the new coronavirus pandemic – you’ve probably heard or read about the famous spike protein, responsible for binding the virus to the cells of the human body. . Now, a new study by the University of Illinois (UIC) in Chicago, USA, maps the evolutionary history of these molecules formed by amino acids and the interrelationships of their domains over 3.8 billion years.
The study was published in the journal Nature, Scientific Reports, on June 8th. Scientist Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, professor of Bioinformatics at the UIC Department of Crop Sciences (Cultivation Science) and research leader, studied the evolution of covid-19 mutations from the early stages of the pandemic and created a timeline – a tiny fraction of what he and doctoral student Fayez Aziz have mapped since the beginning of the research.
The importance of proteins
At the cellular level, proteins are responsible for almost everything. They are so fundamental that DNA – the genetic material that makes each of us unique – is essentially just a long string of them. And this occurs in animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and even viruses. Just as these groups of organisms evolve and change over time, so do proteins and their components.
“Knowing how and why domains combine in proteins during evolution can help scientists understand and design their activity for applications in medicine and bioengineering. from the spike protein of the covid-19 virus,” said Caetano-Anollés in an interview with the Phys website.