The Coronavirus is now mutating faster than before says the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) scientists, who conducted a study on samples from consenting patients in Bengaluru. According to the team led by prof Utpal Tatu of the Department of Biochemistry, the three Bengaluru isolates had 27 mutations in their genomes with more than 11 mutations per sample — more than both the national average (8.4) and the global average (7.3).
Their recent study has identified multiple mutations and unique proteins in isolates of SARS-CoV-2 and also shown that the hosts (humans) produce several proteins of their own as their bodies launch an immunological defence in response to the viral attack.
“To better understand how the virus is mutating and its protein biology (proteins are made using genetic information), the team carried out a comprehensive “proteo-genomic” investigation – a series of analyses of SARS-CoV-2 isolates. The isolates or viral samples were recovered from nasal secretions of consenting Covid-19 positive individuals in Bengaluru,” IISc said in a statement.
Proteo-genomics is a field of biological research that utilises a combination of proteomics (large-scale study of proteins), genomics and transcriptomics (the study of RNA) to aid in the discovery and identification of peptides (a string of amino acids).
To understand the spread and evolutionary history of the virus, the team constructed a global phylogenetic (evolutionary development & diversification) tree, or a tree of relatedness, of viral isolates using the sequence data. The phylogenetic analysis found that the Bengaluru isolates are most closely related to the one from Bangladesh. . It also showed that the isolates in India have multiple origins rather than having evolved from a single ancestral variant.