The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the current Covid-19 epidemic has surprised scientists again. Researchers recently discovered that the virus has a gene hidden in its genetic code The gene in question is a so-called nested gene, which means «one gene in another gene». This type of gene is well hidden in a chain of nucleotides due to the way it interferes with the coding sequences of other genes
According to bioinformatics researcher Chase Nelson of the American Museum of Natural History, SARS-CoV-2 and similar viruses are among the longest RNA viruses in terms of genome size. / p>
The newly identified gene is called ORF3d and scientists are currently studying it anyway., according to researchers, this discovery was somewhat expected because the probability of detecting overlapping genes is very high in viruses
Scientists know it is difficult to identify the genes involved in the genetic sequence. It is really easy for genomic scanning systems to miss the entire genetic code because these systems are programmed to detect individual genes but not necessarily the instructions shared by the nucleotides of neighboring genes in a sequence..
Nelson explains that the lack of overlapping genes may present the risk of losing important aspects of viral biology. This type of hidden genes may be one of the ways in which coronaviruses evolve and reproduce efficiently, and also overwhelm a person's immune system and spread
For the ORF3d gene, scientists have yet to investigate why it is in the genome, by checking genomic databases, they discovered that this gene had already been identified by However, only one type of coronavirus infecting the pangolin, that was detected in Guangxi, in China, was identified.
This recently discovered gene is also known to have been misclassified in the past as another gene called ORF3b which is also present in other coronaviruses. At this stage, Nelson explains that the two genes have no relation to each other and that they code for completely different proteins. Therefore, what is known about SARS-CoV ORF3b should not be applied to the SARS-CoV-2 ORF3d gene.
Researchers say the only thing currently known about the hidden gene is that it elicits a strong antibody response so let's wait and see what other studies reveal about this very mysterious gene..
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News – New gene hidden in SARS-CoV-2 has been discovered