Kim Bitnaeri, a renowned life science professor at Seoul National University, has analyzed the RNA transcript of the virus that causes COVID-19 infections for the first time in the world, paving the way for the development of high-precision reagents and therapeutic drugs for the novel coronavirus.
The Institute of Basic Science (IBS) announced on April 9 that a research team led by Kim has completed a high-resolution genetic map of SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the cause of COVID-19 infections.
Kim is head of the RNA Research Division of the IBS and her team included Professor Jang Hye-shik of the Life Science Department of the SNU and a research fellow of the IBS. The team conducted research in cooperation with the Korea Center for Disease Control.
The joint research team analyzed the genome of the SARS coronavirus 2 and, going one step further, the RNA transcript that is produced after the virus’s penetration of the host cell. It used two types of next-generation sequencing methods including nanopore direct RNA sequencing.
The SARS coronavirus 2 is composed of a gene in the form of an RNA, not a DNA, and penetrates a host and replicate an RNA in cells. In addition, the sub-genome forms a complete virus body in a cell of the host together with the cloned gene by synthesizing several proteins constituting a virus particle structure. When it escapes the cell, it spreads in a way that infects new cells.
Earlier, the Public Health Clinical Center in Shanghai, China released the DNA genome information for the SARS coronavirus 2 for the first time in January, but the information could not accurately determine the location of a gene and could only predict it.
The results of this research by Professor Kim's joint research team confirmed the exact location of a virus gene that causes COVID-19 infections. In addition, the study made it possible to determine the composition of a transcript of the virus.