The coronavirus RNA Polymerase is one of its most complex proteins, which makes it really fun to study!
This protein is first assembled inside the human cell, and its main function is to take the genetic material of the virus and make copies of it, which are later used to make the proteins that the virus needs to become functional.
Nsp7 and Nsp8
These protein subunits stimulate the function of the RNA Polymerase. Scientists have removed and modified these regions, making the protein less efficient.
This part of the protein (known as domain) is shared by all the viruses phylogenetically related to SARS-CoV-2.
This domain makes post-translational modifications, which means that it modifies the protein once it has been made to make it functional.
If you closely examine this region, you might realize that it is shaped as a hairpin.
This relatively simple structure is responsible for maintaining the shape of the whole polymerase, providing structural stability so that it can work properly
Hover your mouse over the yellow buttons to discover the cool features of this protein!
Scroll down to see RNA pol in action!
A perfect fit:
Polymerase and RNA
This is what a section of the genetic material (or RNA) of the coronavirus looks like!
It can form long spirals which contain all the information to produce its proteins and become an infections virus.
These viral RNA pieces travel across the Polymerase tunnel, which forces them to take an adequate position so that they can be copied many times!
After several copies of RNA are produced, they are assembled with the Nucleocapsid protein (and others) to form the SARS-CoV-2 viral units, which are then ready to exit the host cell.
Did you know?
The primary genetic material of humans is known as DNA, which forms double-helix strands.
If you were to stretch out your own DNA it would be about 2 meters long!