A genome map that has analyzed the entire genome of SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 has been identified for the first time. The number of transcriptomes has been corrected from 10 to nine while the accurate locations of genes have been also determined. There have been previous studies that decoded the genome of the virus. However, this is the first study to identify the exact locations, number, and characteristics of the virus’s genes. It is expected to help improving diagnostic technology and developing new medicines.
Director Kim V. Narry, research fellow Jang Hye-sik, and researcher Kim Dong-wan of the Center for RNA Research at the Institute for Basic Science in collaboration with the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published findings in life sciences journal “Cell” on the decoding of the entire SARS-CoV-2 genome and the entire transcriptomes, which are produced during the intermediary process of creating protein once human cells are infected with the virus.
The research team decoded the entire SARS-CoV-2 genome and transcriptomes in an inactive state using two next-generation sequencing technologies. The team was the first to discover that there are nine transcriptomes in total, not 10 as previously known. In addition, they were successful to pinpoint the locations of various genes that had been simply estimated while discovering dozens of new RNAs and learning that the genetic recombination of the virus takes place actively.
The Center for RNA Research team also identified 41 locations marked by chemical molecules, such as a methyl group, in transcriptomes, which play the role of a key drawing in creating protein. The markers, which is called “epitranscriptomes,” can be compared to notes needed to create protein. Epitranscriptomes have been mainly found in certain genome sequences, which is a vital information to understand the cloning process of the virus.
“More research needs to be done on whether the newly discovered RNAs and chemical markers are involved in the cloning and survival of the virus and the controlling of a host’s immune reaction,” said Director Kim. “The markers could serve as the targets when developing medicines.” The director also added that the identified locations of the virus genes can contribute to the improvement of diagnostic technology.