Main Protease (Mpro)
Mpro prepares viral polypeptides by cutting them into small fragments that can later be modified into functional units by the RNApol.
It is a very attractive drug target, as its inhibition would stop the virus from replicating.
Scroll down to see Mpro in action!
After the insertion of the genetic material into the cytoplasm (a thick solution that contains the right nutrients and conditions for the cell to work), a long strand of polypeptides (long chains of joint proteins) is produced.
As one of the first viral proteins assembled inside the human cell, Mpro has the ability to recognize specific sites of the long polypeptide strand and cut them, like a very accurate pair of molecular scissors!
Some of the fragments are later modified to become functional (remember our old friend, the RNA polymerase?)
Ready for Action!
Finally, the functional proteins, come together to perform any task needed by the virus, including giving it its peculiar “crown-like” shape.
At this stage, many copies of the virus are getting assembled inside the cell, getting ready to infect more cells.